>MPs back change in extradition law to put Gary McKinnon in U.S. jail | Mail Online

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Change law that could put Gary McKinnon in U.S. jail, say MPs

By Michael Seamark and James Slack
Last updated at 12:24 AM on 4th November 2010

Fighting on: Gary and his mother Janis who are opposing his extradition to the U.S. on hacking charges

Fighting on: Gary and his mother Janis who are opposing his extradition to the U.S. on hacking charges

Gary McKinnon’s battle to avoid being sent to the U.S. to stand trial received a major boost yesterday.

A poll found that most MPs backed changes in controversial extradition laws.

The computer hacker’s plight has highlighted the ‘lopsided’ treaty that allows America and EU countries to have British citizens sent for trial abroad without presenting the level of evidence that would be needed for prosecution in the UK.

The poll found that 83 per cent of MPs – from all parties – agreed that if most, or all, of the alleged crimes were committed in this country then a British court should decide whether to extradite the accused or leave them to face trial at home.

Two-thirds of MPs agreed that ‘the law should be changed – extradition should only occur if the country requesting it first provides evidence to a UK court’.

The poll was conducted by ComRes for civil rights group Liberty.

Home Secretary Theresa May recently announced a review of the 2003 Extradition Act but the poll findings will renew pressure on the Government to find ways to keep Gary here.

He is facing decades in a U.S. jail for crimes allegedly committed from his north London home.

Gary, 44, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, hacked into Pentagon computers searching for the existence of little green men.

His family say the trauma of extradition could lead to him killing himself. He is prepared to stand trial in the UK.

In opposition, both David Cameron and Nick Clegg condemned plans to send Gary to the U.S.

Mrs May is calling in a new medical expert to assess his health and give him a fresh opportunity to prove he is unfit to be extradited.

The Extradition Act is also being used to try to send a second Briton to the U.S. Retired businessman and county golf president Christopher Tappin, 63, of Farnborough, Kent, is facing 35 years in an American jail after being caught in an FBI ‘sting’ operation when he attempted to buy five industrial batteries.

New development: Home Secretary Theresa May recently announced a review of the Extradition Act

New development: Home Secretary Theresa May recently announced a review of the Extradition Act

He believed they were for use in the car industry but it later emerged that the batteries were a key component of a missile system needed by the Iranian armed forces.

Mr Tappin’s legal battle to avoid extradition resumes in the courts today. He vehemently protests his innocence and says he is prepared to stand trial in Britain.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: ‘This poll proves that MPs of all stripes want fairness and common sense back at the heart of Britain’s extradition system.

‘Gary McKinnon and Christopher Tappin continue to live in fear of being wrenched from family and friends for alleged crimes committed here, without a basic case ever being made in a UK court.

‘Justice will continue to be denied until the Coalition partners restore crucial judicial safeguards as promised in opposition.’

Gary’s mother Janis Sharp said: ‘It’s good news that so many MPs of all parties have said this and very heartening to hear.

‘But we have to see actions now. Our Government can do the right thing if it wants to and ensure Gary is allowed to stand trial in this country.’

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“The poll found that 83 per cent of MPs – from all parties – agreed that if most, or all, of the alleged crimes were committed in this country then a British court should decide whether to extradite the accused or leave them to face trial at home.

Two-thirds of MPs agreed that ‘the law should be changed – extradition should only occur if the country requesting it first provides evidence to a UK court’.”

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