Hacker trial: McKinnon's Asperger's may save him

McKinnon's Aspergers may save him from serving time in a US prison
McKinnon's Asperger's syndrome may save him from serving time in a US prison

A number of senior British politicians are teaming up to help fight the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.

David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary and Shadow Justice Minister, David Burrowes (MP for McKinnon's own Enfield Southgate constituency) and a group of high-profile government supporters are petitioning current Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to put a stop on McKinnon's extradition unless there is a guarantee from the US that he will be allowed to serve his sentence in a British jail.

McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, which could well be what saves him from serving his time in a US jail, if it can be agreed that he has 'special needs' as per the 2003 Extradition Act (passed while David Blunkett was Home Secretary).

Asperger's may save the day

McKinnon's mother told the Guardian: "Gary has Asperger's syndrome ... He believed the UK police when, almost seven years ago, they told him he would probably get six months' community service. Without having engaged a lawyer, he naively admitted to computer misuse but has always denied the alleged damage."

Burrowes also points towards the example of both the Dutch and Israeli governments which require guarantees from the US that any nationals being deported to face trial should be repatriated to serve any sentence imposed back in their home country, should there be sufficient proof of certain medical or mental health disabilities.

Burrowes has support from a number of leading MPs including Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, Chris Mullin, the former Foreign Office minister, and the Tory MP John Bercow.

McKinnon's lawyers are currently seeking a judicial review of the case.

Adam Hartley