Home secretary set for McKinnon talks

By Alex Stevenson

Home secretary Alan Johnson is to meet with representatives of all three parties over the fate of computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

The Home Office confirmed to politics.co.uk the meeting would take place tomorrow.

Labour backbencher Michael Meacher, Tory civil liberties campaigner David Davis and Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne are believed to be attending the meeting.

A Home Office spokesman played down the meeting, saying Mr Johnson frequently met with MPs on matters which they wanted to raise with him.

But campaigners will be pinning their hopes on the meeting as a big opportunity to confront Mr Johnson with arguments against his predecessor’s decision to extradite Mr McKinnon to the US.

At a recent protest outside the US embassy Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti told politics.co.uk: “You’ve got to understand that being taken from your home, your family, your lawyers and your friends and supporters, taken off to the other side of the world, to a place where you will be a stranger, where you will be a fugitive offender, where you will be locked up pending trial – that’s a punishment in itself.

“Where the interests of justice mean that somebody should be tried here at home, that’s what should happen.”

Mr McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and his mother has claimed he has been driven to suicidal thoughts by the threat of his impending extradition.

US authorities want to bring him to trial across the Atlantic for hacking into the Pentagon and Nasa. He claimed he was only looking for evidence of UFOs but US government sources say he caused $700,000 (£430,000) worth of damage.