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Gov may not be able to save NASA hacker

Nick Clegg says Prime Minister can't stop extradition

The government may not have the power to stop the extradition of NASA hacker Gary McKinnon, says the Deputy Prime Minister.

During an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, Nick Clegg, who has previously campaigned in McKinnon's favour, said he hadn't changed his view "in any way" but he didn't think he had the power to prevent McKinnon being extradited to the US.

"It's legally very complex but on the morality and principle of it, I haven't changed my view one little bit, which is that it would be right for Gary McKinnon to be tried in this country," Clegg said.

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

McKinnon, is accused of breaking into US military computers, including those belonging to NASA, in a bid to prove the US government had knowledge of UFOs in 2001.

The US claims McKinnon's hacking activities caused $700,000 (£433,000) worth of damage. He's also accused of stealing 950 passwords, deleting files at a naval base in New Jersey and rendering the military computer networks used following September 11 useless.

Clegg's response contradicts his comments last year, when he said: "It's completely within his [the Home Secretary's] power to enact amendments from the Police and Justice Act, which would allow Gary McKinnon to be tried over here.

First arrested in 2002, McKinnon, who is an Asperger's sufferer, has been fighting extradition to the US since 2005.

A judicial review into whether McKinnon should be extradited to the US was scheduled to begin at the High Court this week.

However, last week, lawyers for McKinnon revealed the review had been adjourned by the Home Office, which oversees criminal justice affairs, while the government reconsiders the extradition order.

See also: NASA hacker McKinnon puts hopes in new govt

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