Nick Clegg appears to backtrack over intervention in Gary McKinnon case

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, has shocked supporters of Gary McKinnon, by saying that the newly elected British Goverment may not be able to prevent the extradition of the self-confessed NASA hacker.

Nick Clegg's comments on the Gary McKinnon case

According to newspaper reports, Nick Clegg told BBC Radio Five Live:

"What I haven't got power to do, neither has the Home Secretary neither has even the Prime Minister, is to completely reverse and undo certain legal aspects of this.

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That of course you wouldn't want politicians to do. That's what we are looking at at the moment. It's legally very complex. But on the sort of morality and principle of it, I haven't changed my view one bit."

It would be the right thing to do to have Gary McKinnon tried in this country."

Clegg’s statement has surprised onlookers, as in a newspaper article he wrote last summer he claimed that it was “completely within [the Home Secretary’s] power to enact amendments from the Police and Justice Act, which would allow Gary McKinnon to be tried over here.”

"The only conclusion possible is that the British Government cares more about its relationship with the United States than it does about the welfare of its citizens.

Where is this Government's moral compass? The truth is this Government has lost its basic sight of what's right and what's wrong."

No doubt McKinnon’s many supporters will be hoping that Clegg was right then, and is wrong now.

McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, was arrested seven years ago after breaking into computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA.

The 44-year-old hacker claims that he accessed the computer systems only to hunt for top secret information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and alien technology, which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public.

For their part, the US authorities claim that McKinnon caused some $800,000 worth of damage.

Image source: Daily Mail

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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