British Computer Hacker May Avoid US Extradition

The computer hacker Gary McKinnon could avoid extradition to the US by serving time in a British prison, David Cameron has suggested after raising the issue in talks with Barack Obama.

Following his meeting at the White House, the prime minister told BBC Radio 5 Live that the government has discussed with the US ambassador the possibility of a prison sentence, but that the sentence be carried out in British prison.

Officials are nearing a deal to avoid McKinnon’s extradition to the US, where he faces up to 60 years in prison. Obama said a solution should be found within the law but in the context of the “co-operative relationship” between the US and the UK. Cameron and Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, have publicly criticized plans to extradite McKinnon.

McKinnon claims he only hacked into US systems in 2001-2002 to search for evidence of UFOs. Campaigners for McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, said they were “overjoyed” and hoped Cameron’s comments signaled a resolution to their eight-year campaign.

Last year Alan Johnson, the former home secretary and Theresa May’s predecessor, ruled that McKinnon could face extradition and trial in the US, but his lawyers were granted permission for a judicial review into whether the decision breached his human rights.

The case took another turn when May stepped in to adjourn the review days before it was due to start, to consider whether McKinnon is fit to stand trial in the US. The home secretary is still considering the issue.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

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