American Civil Liberties Union attacks David Miliband over UK/US extradition treaty
A US civil liberties group backed by a host of Hollywood celebrities has attacked the controversial extradition treaty which could see British computer hacker Gary McKinnon shipped to the United States on computer hacking charges.Photo: GEOFF PUGH
The news came as supporters of Mr McKinnon launched a campaign at the American Embassy in London to stop him being extradited to face charges of allegedly hacking into top security US Government computers.
Mr McKinnon will find out in a fortnight if he can challenge in the new British Supreme Court the decision by the Home Secretary to extradite him on the grounds of his right to a family life under the Human Rights Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been backed in the past by stars like Al Pacino and Martin Sheen, wrote to David Miliband, the foreign secretary, expressing its concern about extradition arrangements between Britain and America.
In the letter, Anthony Romero, the unions executive director, complained that Britons were exposed to the risk of ill-founded extradition requests.
This was because British prosecutors have to provide enough information to provide a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offence.
In contrast, American prosecutors need only detail the charges, which cannot be challenged, in a British court.
Mr Romero added: We are concerned about the threats to the rights of British people and the unfair lopsided aspect of the treaty that means while Americans have basic constitutional protections…
British residents can be subject to extradition without equivalent evidentary requirements being made out.
The ACLU support for Gary McKinnon came on the same day that Liberty staged a protest outside the American Embassy and presented the new American Ambassador Louis Susman with a hamper welcoming him to his new role.
The hamper contained a letter from Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, as well as ‘dont let Gary go paper planes from the protest, a copy of Magna Carta and the Human Rights Act.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty said: The intervention of Libertys sister, the American Civil Liberties Union, proves that Britains Extradition Act is an international embarrassment.
Vulnerable people like Gary McKinnon can be bundled off to other countries when they ought to be dealt with at home.
Outside the US embassy, Mr McKinnon’s girlfriend Lucy Clarke said Mr McKinnon was “fragile”. His mother Janis added that she was very worried about how he was coping under the pressure.
The 43-year-old from Wood Green, north London, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, is wanted for trial on charges of hacking into US military networks.
Campaigners believe his only crime is being a “UFO eccentric” who searched for evidence of extra-terrestrials.