Gary McKinnon’s mother fights Jack Straw at election

The mother of Nasa and Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon is standing for election in Jack Straw’s Blackburn constituency.

Janis Sharp, who lives in Hertfordshire, plans to stand as an independent candidate in the Lancashire constituency. She blames the justice secretary for pushing through the treaty that would allow her son to be extradited to the US for a trial.

Sharp told the BBC News website: "Jack Straw led us to believe the extradition treaty would only be used for terrorists, but it is not being used for this.

"Once these things are brought in, we don’t know where they will go next. It’s very frightening."

She does not, however, believe that she will actually win the Blackburn seat.

"I don’t expect to get in, but I feel civil liberties need a voice," said Sharp.

A spokesman for Straw told the BBC: "In a democracy, it is right that people are able to stand in elections and put their case.

"I am sure there will be lots of views heard over the next few weeks and it is good that people are able to do that."

A judicial review of the planned extradition is scheduled for 25 and 26 May. The Conservative party has highlighted problems in the extradition treaty, insisting it should be modified in McKinnon's favour.

McKinnon has admitted to the hacking, but said he was looking for evidence of UFOs rather than trying to cause damage to US government computers.

He suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. His lawyers have argued he is in a "very poor mental state" as a result of the "ongoing pressure of these proceedings".

The British government initially approved McKinnon's extradition in 2006. The UK authorities decided not to prosecute McKinnon, even though his alleged crimes occurred in the UK, because most of the evidence and witnesses are in the US.

Last November, the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee of MPs stated it was against McKinnon’s extradition.

In a letter to home secretary Alan Johnson, committee chairman Keith Vaz cited McKinnon's "precarious state of mental health". He wrote that "the committee is of the view that he should not be extradited to the USA and that you [Johnson] should exercise your discretion in this case".

McKinnon also has high profile celebrity supporters, including musician Sting, and last year found the support of the Daily Mail newspaper which ran a series of headlines against his extradition.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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