Gary McKinnon (Extradition)
Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Damian Green (- Shadow Minister (Immigration), Home Affairs; Ashford, Conservative)
Throughout this wretched process, and again today, the Home Secretary has sought to minimise the amount of discretion that he has. He told the McKinnon family, and said again today, that the only issue that he could consider was whether Gary McKinnon's human rights were being breached by his extradition. Of course I accept the Home Secretary's version of his powers, and I therefore ask him to consider some questions in that narrow context.
First, is it proportionate or a breach of human rights to extradite someone in the context of what has been alleged? The US prosecutors say that Mr. McKinnon was attempting to
"influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion".
He allegedly hacked into US army computers and left messages attacking US foreign policy. Is that really intimidating or coercive to the US military? More to the point, does the Home Secretary seriously believe that that would be the action of a terrorist?
Secondly, does Mr. McKinnon really need to be extradited to stand trial? As the Home Secretary will have seen, there are reports that the Crown Prosecution Service wanted to prosecute Mr. McKinnon in this country for computer misuse, but that those efforts were blocked. Is that true? Thirdly, is it not a breach of his human rights to send a man with Asperger's and depression to face a possible 60-year sentence? The Home Secretary will have seen the opinion of one psychiatrist that that will amount to a death sentence. It is, of course, horribly ironic that it would be illegal to send someone to another country to face an explicit death sentence.
Fourthly, will the Home Secretary not accept that the imbalance in the Extradition Act 2003 means that a British citizen facing extradition has fewer human rights than a US citizen would have if the position were reversed? Baroness Scotland, the Government's Attorney-General, said in 2003:
"when we make extradition requests to the United States we shall need to submit sufficient evidence to establish 'probable cause'. That is a lower test than prima facie but a higher threshold than we ask of the United States"-[ Hansard, House of Lords, 16 December 2003; Vol. 655, c. 1063.]
Why does the Home Secretary disagree with his Attorney-General that the extradition treaty is unbalanced and unfair?
Finally, does the Home Secretary not recognise that the Extradition Act 2003 was put in place to ensure that terrorists did not escape justice? It was never intended to deal with a case such as the one that we are discussing. Can he not see that his actions regarding Gary McKinnon have damaged this country's reputation, damaged relations between Britain and our most important ally and, most importantly, damaged a very vulnerable and sick young man?