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McKinnon faithful to stage further US embassy demo

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Supporters of Gary McKinnon are planning a further demo outside the US embassy next Friday as time runs out to prevent the hacker's extradition to the US.

Protesters hope to present a letter for US president-elect Barack Obama to embassy officials during the demo, which kicks off at 5pm on 5 December. They also hope to present a letter to the office of former prime minister Tony Blair, whose London house is a short walk away from the US Embassy.

McKinnon's supporters hope a change in US administration will bring a change of stance in the handling of the case.

Meanwhile the legal options are narrowing. Following knock-backs in the House of Lords and and the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year, McKinnon's legal team are hoping to persuade a judge that the Home Secretary's recent decision to disregard McKinnon's recent diagnosis of Aspergers in assessing extradition proceedings was unfair. The case is due back in court on 5 December, the same day at the protests.

An early day motion in favour of McKinnon has attracted the support of 80 MPs, but requests for a debate on the issue have been turned down.

Next week's demos mark the latest phase in McKinnon's long-running fight against extradition, which began more than three years ago. The former sysadmin faces seven counts of hacking into 97 US government, NASA and military systems between 2001 and 2002. He admits the offence but wants to be tried in the UK rather than the US. Family and supporters of McKinnon fear he may face up to 60 years behind bars following a possible US trial, though papers submitted during his failed House of Lords appeal suggest that 8-10 years is probably a more realistic estimate.

More details on the upcoming protests can be found on the Free Gary support blog here. ®

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