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PM quizzed over McKinnon extradition

Brown supports repatriation, in principle

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Prime minister Gordon Brown has spoken about the Gary McKinnon extradition case for the first time, supporting the principle of repatriation of sentenced prisoners while declining to get into the specifics of the case, which remains under judicial review.

During prime minister's questions on Wednesday, Gordon Brown supported the general principle of repatriation of prisoners in extradition cases, without referring to the McKinnon case specifically. David Burrowes, Tory MP for Enfield, Southgate and McKinnon's constituency MP, asked: "Will the prime minister ensure that extradition arrangements are changed so that UK citizens such as ... Gary McKinnon, are not routinely extradited, despite having Asperger's syndrome?"

In response, Brown said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, which is due back in court on 5 December, while making a general comment in support of the principle of repatriation.

"The Honourable Gentleman refers to the case of his constituent, which he has taken up with Lord West. The UK has important obligations in that area, and we take those obligations seriously. I am sure that he will be aware that the case is before the courts again on 5 December, and I cannot comment on any specifics. As I understand it, however, the UK and the US are signatories to the Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced persons, which enables a person found guilty in the United States of America to serve their sentence in the UK," the prime minister said.

The full exchange can be seen in an extract from Hansard here.

An early day motion calling for the government to obtain assurances that McKinnon would be permitted serve any sentence imposed by a US court in a UK jail gained the support of 74 MPs but requests for a debate on the issue have reportedly been rejected.

McKinnon has run a long campaign against extradition the the US, where he faces faces seven charges of hacking into US government and military systems during 2001 and 2002. He admits the actions but denies causing damage. Following a string of legal setbacks, including the rejection of his appeal by the House of Lords back in July, McKinnon's legal options have narrowed down to a judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision not to suspend extradition proceedings following his recent diagnosis with Asperger's syndrome. A hearing before a judge on this question has been scheduled for 5 December. ®

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