Barely ten days after Babar Ahmad was extradited to the US a computer hacker has been saved from a similar fate at the eleventh hour.
Home Secretary Theresa May used the Human Rights Act to halt Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the US.
Mr McKinnon was accused by US prosecutors of “the biggest military computer hack of all time”, but he claims he was simply looking for evidence of UFOs. It will now be for the director of public prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer QC to decide whether Mr McKinnon should face charges in the UK.
Mr McKinnon’s lawyer Karen Todner said it was “a great day for British justice” and added that she hoped the DPP “might consider that Gary has suffered enough”.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, who represented Mr McKinnon, praised Mrs May for using the Human Rights Act to halt the extradition. He said: “It was only thanks to the Human Rights Act that she had the power to stop this extradition.”
David Burrowes, Mr McKinnon’s MP, said: “It’s a life that’s been given back to Gary in a long dark tunnel that is 10 years. This must never happen again.”
Tooting MP Sadiq Khan said, “I welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement that Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the United States. However this has caused confusion for a lot of Tooting residents, given that two of my constituents – Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan – were extradited to the USA only 10 days ago.
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“The government is using the Human Rights Act to prevent the extradition of Gary McKinnon on health grounds, but Syed Talha Ahsan also suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome.
“This issue was raised with the British authorities by both myself and the legal representatives of my constituents, but ignored on each occasion. The obvious question people are asking is why Gary’s case is different.
“The issue of “forum” was also crucial in both Babar and Tahla’s cases yet the changes announced today will not help them as they have both have now gone to the USA.
“Today’s announcement will cause considerable confusion. The appearance of double standards by the Home Secretary does not engender confidence in the justice system”