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Pink Floyd's Gilmour backs McKinnon protest gig

UFO hacker gets support from Dark Side of the Moon

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Updated Legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has agreed to participate in a musical protest against attempts to extradite UFO enthusiast turned hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.

Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mum, is organising a sing-in protest to coincide with President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to London for the G20 conference on the global economic crisis at the beginning of April. News of Gilmour's involvement gives a massive publicity boost to these efforts.

"Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd is going to sing Graham Nash's 'Chicago' for our son Gary McKinnons 'Sing In' for World Autism Day 2nd April yea," Sharp excitedly announced via micro-blogging service Twitter on Wednesday.

Sharp added that the offer came by email and that Gilmour had agreed to "sing/record Chicago on our backing track for Gary's 'Sing In'”. The Pink Floyd legend will not be able to attend the demo itself, however.

"Dave Gilmour can't come to the live "sing in" because he's going on half term holiday on Friday with his wife and children," Sharp told El Reg.

In a follow-up message, Sharp explained how Glmour came to offer his help.

"We've known Joe, Dave Gilmour's brother-in-law, since Gary was a child and Joe knows Gary is a good person," she writes. "Joe told David Gilmour and his sister Polly (Polly is David Gilmour's wife) and Dave immediately offered and emailed me to say he is happy to sing on our 'Sing In' recording/cd for Gary."

Gilmour's email, Ma McKinnon tells us, also said: "I agree that your son Gary should not be being extradited to the USA for his naïve hacking. It is hard to understand that our so-called fair justice system could not be more effectively used to prevent this."

Shine on you crazy diamond

Gilmour, legendary singer and guitarist with Pink Floyd needs little introduction, but what's not-so well known is that the rocker has supported charities including the European Union Mental Health and Illness Association and Amnesty International over the years, something that's probably made him more receptive to McKinnon's plight.

Sharp has rewritten the lyrics (but not the tune) of Graham Nash's Chicago so that it serves as a protest anthem against long-running attempts to haul her self-confessed UFO evidence hunter turned US military hacker son over to the US. The protests seeks to draw attention to the "one-sided" UK-US extradition treaty more generally.

Nash is famous as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Sharp choose the song partly because it harked back to the era of the Vietnam War protests as a mechanism to "rekindle the spirit of protest" of those times. The title of the song also references Obama's adopted home city.

Crank up the volume

Music has been a feature in McKinnon's long-running campaign against extradition. Celebrity supporters of McKinnon's include former Police frontman Sting and wife Trudie Styler.

Ross Hemsworth, managing director of Glastonbury Radio and UK director of the International UFO Congress, suggested plans to organise a benefit gig on McKinnon's behalf back in November but the idea never came to fruition. Kayleigh-admirers Marillion inititally supported the idea of a gig but later pulled out, partially out of fears of upsetting their US fanbase.

Hemsworth also floated the idea of bringing musicians together to make a recording of a song written by McKinnon, called Only a Fool, with the proceeds going to autism charities. So far that idea is yet to come together, either.

Samples of McKinnon's other musical work can be found below, via YouTube.

McKinnon's team obviously have the prog rock, folk and new age music scenes well covered. Sharp adds that "Cliff Williams the Bass Player of AC/DC is an old friend from Muswell Hill", so metal may get covered too.

Newer genres - such as rap and techno - seem to be a bit more tricky.

The planned 'sit-in' musical protests will take place two months before judicial review on whether the Home Secretary was right to allow extradition proceedings against McKinnon to continue in spite of his recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome. The hearing represents McKinnon's best hopes of avoiding extradition and trial following earlier failed appeal to the House of Lords and elsewhere last year, prior to the diagnosis of McKinnon with a mild form of autism. ®

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