Lord Carlile sides with McKinnon in extradition battle

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Lord Carlile of Berriew, the UK government's independent reviewer of terrorism laws, has spoken out against the proposed extradition of London hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.

Lord Carlile of Berriew, the UK government's independent reviewer of terrorism laws, has spoken out against the proposed extradition of London hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.

McKinnon stands accused of accessing and damaging 92 US government computers holding information on national defence, but has argued that he should be tried in the UK because the conditions of detention he would face if convicted in the US would be degrading and an infringement of his human rights.

In a letter seen by The Guardian, Lord Carlile asked home secretary Jacqui Smith to help McKinnon to be prosecuted in the UK because "the acts of hacking occurred within our jurisdiction".

Lord Carlile also noted that McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, and that a US extradition would be likely to cause a "potential injury to his health of a high order". Asperger's is a type of autism which causes restricted patterns of behaviour and significant difficulties in social interaction.

McKinnon, who has been hunted by Washington for over seven years, currently faces trial on seven counts of computer fraud and could spend life in a US jail if convicted.

His application to the European Court of Human Rights for a delay of his extradition was denied, and the Home Office has said that there is nothing it can do to stop the process.

Lord Carlile's letter follows a call by London mayor Boris Johnson for US president Barack Obama to call off the extradition quest. Johnson described the move as "neocon lunacy", and said that McKinnon is no threat to US security.

But the US government has argued that McKinnon caused a network in Washington DC to shut down, resulting in a loss of internet access and email to about 2,000 users for three days with an estimated loss of around $900,000 (£490,000).

McKinnon has always claimed that he wanted to find information on UFOs.

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