I was very disappointed to hear today's news that Gary McKinnon has lost his latest court bid to avoid extradition to the US. I completely agree with Chris Huhne's comments that Mr McKinnon should be tried in a UK court.
The BBC News story linked to above has something very interesting in its synopsis of the UK-US extradition treaty that was agreed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks:
US courts have granted about 70% of UK extradition requests, while nearly 90% of US requests have been granted
Why is there such an imbalance between the extradition traffic? It feels like the US is better at looking after its own citizens than our own government is of ours. Can that be right? I would be interested to hear anyone who has a better explanation.
Also, does anyone seriously think that this case is the sort of thing that those drafting the treaty were expecting it to deal with? A man with Asperger's Syndrome obsessed with UFOs did something very silly for which he is doubtless very sorry and as a result he could be carted off to a foreign country and treated like a terrorist with a potential sentence of 70 years. Our government should be ashamed of itself and should do something immediately about the "unintended consequences" of this badly drafted treaty.
If they had the will they could do it. Andrew MacKinlay the Labour MP who announced he was stepping down last week spoke a lot of sense about this on Radio 4's PM earlier. He said that the very least that should happen is that the Home Secretary should indicate that he will take his time processing the extradition (basically stalling for time) whilst the government raises this issue through diplomatic channels with the US. They are embarrassing us with this now in a way we would never do to them.
This mess needs to be sorted out now and our Prime Minister needs to show some back-bone.
(Hattip to @sw1lobbyist on Twitter for pointing me towards the imbalance figures)