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Mayor Boris backs McKinnon in extradition fight

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Gary McKinnon has attracted the support of London Mayor Boris Johnson.

In his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph, the Tory mayor calls upon President Barack Obama to ask US prosecutors to abandon efforts to extradite the British hacker, who faces a seven-count US indictment of allegations he broke into US military and Nasa systems in 2001 and 2002.

Johnson, a former journalist turned Tory politician, is known for playing the buffoon in public but is actually quite bright. In his column, entitled Gary McKinnon believes in little green men – but it doesn't make him a terrorist, Johnson lays into claims by US prosecutors that McKinnon pulled off the biggest military hack ever. He criticises attempts to extradite the former sysadmin to face an uncertain fate in the US rather than trial in the UK for his admitted hacking offences.

In a legal nightmare that has lasted seven years, and cost untold millions to taxpayers both here and in America, the US Justice Department is persisting in its demented quest to extradite 43-year-old Londoner, Gary McKinnon.

To listen to the ravings of the US military, you would think that Mr McKinnon is a threat to national security on a par with Osama bin Laden. According to the Americans, this mild-mannered computer programmer has done more damage to their war-fighting capabilities than all the orange-pyjama-clad suspects of Guantanamo combined.

Johnson goes on to note that McKinnon wasn't even a "proper hacker" because he only got into systems by scanning for blank passwords in an entertaining rant which also has a go at the one-sided UK to US extradition treaty that's yet to be ratified by Congress.

In their continuing rage at this electronic lèse-majesté, the Americans want us to send him over there to face trial, and the possibility of a 70-year jail sentence. It is a comment on American bullying and British spinelessness that this farce is continuing, because Gary McKinnon is not and never has been any kind of threat to American security. He had only one reason for fossicking around in the databanks of Pentagon computers, and it had nothing to do with the war on terror or indeed the military capabilities of any country on earth.

McKinnon's recent diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is recent enough for mercy. Treating the UFO-conspiracy enthusiast as an electronic jihadist is deeply misguided and unjust, Johnson argues.

Gary McKinnon wasn't even a proper hacker. He did something called "blank password scanning", and because these military computers were so dumb as to lack proper passwords, he was able to roam around their intestines in search of evidence of little green men. He was so innocent and un-furtive in his investigations that he left his own email address, and messages such as "Your security is crap". And yes, since you ask, he does think that he found evidence that the US military is infiltrated by beings from the planet Tharg. He even knows the names and ranks of various non-terrestrial officers, though unfortunately they have been deleted from his hard drive.

It is brutal, mad and wrong even to consider sending this man to America for trial. He has been diagnosed as having Asperger's syndrome, for heaven's sake. How can the British government be so protoplasmic, so pathetic, so heedless of the well-being of its own people, as to sign the warrant for his extradition?

Johnson goes on to have a dig at the government, humourlessly suggesting they might be in on the conspiracy.

It may be that the former footballer and BBC presenter David Icke is right, and that the world is run by giant lizards in disguise. Perhaps Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are themselves supersized saurians who have been sent on a 10-year mission to wreck the UK economy, in preparation for the great lizard takeover.

McKinnon and his lawyers have consistently sought a UK trial, mounting a high-profile campaign against extradition. Last week judges granted a review of the Home Secretary's decision to proceed with extradition proceedings against McKinnon, despite his recent diagnosis with Asperger's syndrome.

Separately, a decision by UK prosecutors on whether or not to prosecute McKinnon in the UK in response to a written confession by McKinnon recently submitted through his lawyers is expected within two weeks. ®

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