NASA hacker McKinnon in failed parliamentary legal bid

Supporters of NASA hacker Gary McKinnon have failed in a bid to review the Extradition Act in his favour.

A Conservative party call to review the act was voted down by 290 votes to 236 in parliament yesterday, it was reported.

In a furious front page story today, the Daily Mail - which recently lent its support to McKinnon - lambasted 74 “spineless” Labour MPs who had previously signed Commons motions in McKinnon’s favour but yesterday voted against modifying the law.

McKinnon faces prosecution in the US for hacking 97 NASA and Pentagon PCs in 2001 and 2002. He has claimed he was looking for evidence of aliens, instead of to cause damage.

His lawyers appeared in London’s High Court yesterday, arguing he should not be extradited because he has Asperger’s syndrome, and the consequences on his health could be severe. Additionally, other British computer hackers who committed a crime in the UK have been tried on British soil, they noted.

Yesterday’s debate in parliament was “highly-charged”, according to the Mail. Home secretary Alan Johnson faced criticism “from all sides” for failing to act against the extradition.

Shadow Conservative home secretary Chris Grayling said he was disappointed “Labour MPs are willing to sign motions for PR purposes but are not actually prepared to vote for change in the House of Commons”, it was reported.

But the government defended its decision on McKinnon. Home secretary Alan Johnson said he could not intervene in the case, adding: “We have to act in accordance with the law, and the law in this case I believe provides safeguards.”

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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