In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, they complain that “defendants are almost totally unable to prevent extradition, despite a high likelihood of incarceration abroad, even where no charges have yet been brought in the requesting country”.

Signatories to the letter include Lord Carlile of Berriew, the Government’s independent terrorism adviser, as well as the actor Julie Christie, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, the musician Sting, and his wife Trudie Styler.

It has been sent to mark the 10 year anniversary of America’s battle to extradite Gary McKinnon, the Briton who is wanted to face computer hacking charges in the USA.

It comes as campaigners, including Mr McKinnon’s mother Janis Sharp, will today (WEDS) visit in 10 Downing Street to hand in sample of poems written by supporters of Mr McKinnon.

The current controversial extradition rules are viewed as unfair to Britons by campaigners, who are urging the Government to change them.

Currently, the Crown Prosecution Service and the US’s Department of Justice decide where cases should be tried. However experts say that courts should be given this role to increase transparency and ensure that the process is seen as fair.

In the letter, the campaigners say: “Britain has a history of respect for principles such as habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence. Our extradition arrangements are a stain on this tradition.”

Other signatories include David Davis MP, the Tories’ former shadow home secretary, Conservative MPs Dominic Raab and Zac Goldsmith and Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty.

They claim that since the Extradition Act came into force with America in January 2004, there has been “an exponential rise in requests for extradition from Britain”.

They add: “The British Government must recognise that our extradition relations with the rest of the world are out of kilter both with accepted practice in other countries and with the most basic concepts of fairness.”

They argue that ministers’ “first duty of any Government is the protection of its own citizens”, and call for a new ‘forum’ rule to be written into extradition laws would allow courts to prevent extradition if most of a crime was committed in the UK.

They add: “We call upon the Government to look at the conclusions on extradition already reached by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and to commit itself to primary legislation in the Queen’s Speech.”

Mr McKinnon, 45, was accused in 2002 of using his home computer to hack into 97 American military and Nasa computers, causing damage that the US government claimed would cost more than $700,000 (£440,000) to repair.

He admits breaching the systems but denies causing damage and claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

The letter was also signed by Britons David Bermingham, one of the NatWest Three bankers, who was extradited to the US in 2006 and later pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud.

It is also signed by Britons wanted for extradition to the US, including Richard O’Dwyer, who the US wants to prosecute for running a website linking to sites carrying pirated TV shows and films, and Christopher Tappin, who accused of plotting to export missile components to Iran.

A spokesman for the US embassy in London said: “There has not been an overall increase in the number of extradition requests from the US to the UK since 2004.

“Before an extradition request can be submitted from the US. to the UK, the USmust officially charge the subject of that request with a crime.

“US law enforcement authorities must present enough evidence for a court to find that there is ‘probable cause’ to charge a suspect, then a U.S. arrest warrant is issued.

“Only then can the US submit an extradition request to the UK if that is where the suspect is believed to be located at the time.”

A Home Office spokesman said:”An independent review into the UK’s extradition arrangements was published in October 2011.

“The review panel, led by Sir Scott Baker, made a number of recommendations to the government. We are considering those recommendations carefully and will respond in due course.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has asked Sir Menzies Campbell, a QC and former Liberal Democrat party leader, to review the extradition laws, after an independent review by former judge Sir Scott Baker ruled that the arrangements were fair

SOURCE: The Telegraph

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