Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Obama ignored Brown's plea for computer hacker McKinnon to be jailed in UK

By Nigel Morris

Published 01/12/2010 | 00:00

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon
Computer hacker Gary McKinnon

Gordon Brown suffered an embarrassing rebuff from President Obama's government when the Prime Minister suggested that the British computer hacker Gary McKinnon should be jailed in his home country, leaked embassy cables disclose.

The former prime minister had publicly insisted that the hacker's fate was a matter for the courts rather than the government. But the diplomatic cables show he was pressing the White House to take a more lenient approach to Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, and said he had been looking for material on the existence of UFOs.

Mr Brown's intervention emerged in a cable from Louis Susman, the US ambassador to London, to Hillary Clinton last year. He wrote: "In August [2009] PM Brown... proposed a deal: that McKinnon plead guilty... but serve any sentence of incarceration in the UK." It is understood, however, that the US attorney general, Eric Holder, dismissed the idea.

Yesterday Mr McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said she was "very surprised and very pleased" to learn of the secret negotiations. She said: "I wish we had known about that because [Mr Brown] would have been given credit for it."

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