Leading article: Hacked off

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is only right that friendly nations should co-operate to send their nationals abroad for trial if they have committed a serious crime in a foreign country. But transferring one's citizens to a foreign jurisdiction should never be done casually. And the merit of the arguments put forward by the foreign state needs to be rigorously tested. The case of Gary McKinnon, who is due to be extradited to the US, accused of hacking into the Pentagon from his home in north London, raises serious doubts about whether those requirements have been satisfied in this instance.

Mr McKinnon could easily be tried and sentenced here in Britain. The unpalatable impression is thus of an American administration humiliated by the ease with which Mr McKinnon circumnavigated its security systems and determined to make an example of him.

But that takes this extradition request out of the purview of the law and into the realm of politics. An attempt by a foreign state to make a scapegoat out of a British national is not something our courts should be meekly going along with.