Leaks show US snubbed Brown’s McKinnon plea
Embassy cables revealed by Wikileaks have shown how the US refused Gordon Brown’s pleas to stop the extradition of British hacker Gary McKinnon.
McKinnon admits hacking into US Government computers, but his supporters have long argued he should be tried and if necessary jailed in the UK, as the stress of a US trial and sentence would be too much for the Asperger’s sufferer to bear.
As popular support grew for the hacker – who claimed he only breached government computers to search for evidence of UFOs – politicians took his case to the US administration arguing that McKinnon be allowed to stay in Britain.
Brown cited deep public concern that McKinnon, with his medical condition, would commit suicide or suffer injury if imprisoned in a US facility
Brown made his unsuccessful attempt to broker a deal in August last year, according to a secret cable thought to be from the US ambassador in the UK, Louis Susman, to the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
“PM Brown, in a one-on-one meeting with the ambassador, proposed a deal: that McKinnon plead guilty, make a statement of contrition, but serve any sentence of incarceration in the UK,” Susman wrote, according to the Guardian, which has been working with Wikileaks on the cable revelations.
“Brown cited deep public concern that McKinnon, with his medical condition, would commit suicide or suffer injury if imprisoned in a US facility.”
“McKinnon has gained enormous popular sympathy in his appeal against extradition; the UK’s final decision is pending,” he reported. “The case has also caused public criticism of the US-UK extradition treaty.”
Despite this, and Brown’s offer, the US administration said it still wanted McKinnon to stand trial in the States.
Change of fortune unlikely
Hopes that the US stance on McKinnon’s situation might have changed with the new Government also look slim, and Prime Minister David Cameron has yet to announce whether his coalition will comply with continued US demands to hand over McKinnon.
Last year Cameron – while still in opposition – raised the issue with US officials, but the cables show nothing that suggests Cameron’s message got through.
“Cameron said he had raised the extradition with the ambassador in an earlier conversation because the case was a matter of concern for many in the British public,” Susman wrote in the cables. “British people generally feel McKinnon is guilty ‘but they are sympathetic’, Cameron said.”
Parliament’s home affairs committee was due to open a hearing into the extradition demands today.