Members on all sides of the House of Commons today cheered home secretary Theresa May’s announcement that she would block the extradition of ‘Pentagon hacker’ Gary McKinnon (pictured). She said she had examined medical evidence, and concluded that if extradited to the US there was a high risk that McKinnon would kill himself.
May said that she had taken legal advice and concluded that extradition in such circumstances would be a breach of McKinnon’s human rights. She also announced that the government would seek ways to create a ‘forum bar’ – a court hearing that would determine where a person should stand trial.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper welcomed May’s decision. She told the commons that the previous government had legislated for the creation of a forum bar, but that this provision had not been activated. Cooper noted that there had been practical objections raised to the creation of a forum bar, but offered cross-party support to the introduction of workable proposals.
In the week the home secretary announced that the UK would opt out of 130 European justice measures, Cooper asked whether May might not struggle to achieve international consensus for extradition arrangements that addressed the ‘wider problem of internet crimes that could occur simultaneously in several jurisdictions’.
McKinnon’s Conservative MP, David Burrowes, thanked May for ‘saving the life of my constituent’. Burrowes, who had threatened to resign if McKinnon’s extradition was not stopped today, hoped that ‘never again’ would a vulnerable individual face such a process over a 10-year period.