It’s highly unusual for a lawyer to claim the potential suicide of their client as a defence.
But that’s what Karen Todner, the lawyer being instructed by ‘computer hacker’ Gary McKinnon, says could happen if he is extradited to the US.
Last night, the man accused by US prosecutors of hacking into Pentagon and Nasa computers found out that the Home Secretary would not prevent his extradition and imprisonment abroad. If found guilty he could face 60 years in a US prison.
The news was another blow for McKinnon’s lawyer of nearly eight years, who today described why she has become “passionate and emotive” over her client’s plight.
The case is similar to that of Ian Norris, who was charged with price fixing by US authorities. In March last year, five law lords voted unanimously against his extradition in a case that undermined the UK’s extradition treaty with the US.
Extradition law, however, does not lend itself to trends, especially given the political implications and mixed historical precedents
One big difference between the two is that Norris made it to the Supreme Court, where he appears on Monday, while McKinnon didn’t - despite the best efforts of his legal team to relate the two cases.
Todner and Co now have seven days to build their case for a judicial review of Alan Johnson’s decision, with Todner insisting that McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s, is likely to take his own life if US prosecutors succeed.