Blunkett Calls For McKinnon To Be Tried Via Video Link

Former UK Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for British hacker Gary McKinnon to be tried in the US via video link.

On Tuesday, Blunkett told the Commons home affairs select committee that the UK and the US should come to an agreement whereby McKinnon, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2008, can be tried in the US using technology that allowed him to remain in the UK.

Concern has been raised over McKinnon’s welfare should he be forced to face the charges in the US.

Speaking to ZDNet, Blunkett said: "One of the main issues with Gary McKinnon is the impact of any removal from the country because of his health."

"There are arguments that the case could have been dealt with in a different way. We should either give him the chance to make his case here, or have him removed."

The committee, chaired by Keith Vaz, heard evidence on the UK’s controversial extradition treaty with the US.

“I think it would be a good idea to explore whether, if the US insist that the case should be heard within US jurisdiction, we might be able to use new technologies as a way of getting round a very specific case with a specific claim of illness arising out of Asperger's and the danger to an individual's health,” Blunkett said.

The former Home Secretary, who put the treaty through Parliament in 2003, also told the committee that the laws under which a US court has ordered the extradition of McKinnon were passed without consideration on how they would be applied to computer related incidents.

“It was a mistake," said Blunkett, adding that, in hindsight, politicians would have looked into cyber crime taking place across geographical boundaries.

"Were we looking at a case like Gary McKinnon's seven years ago, and someone had put to me that in the cyber age it is possible for someone to commit a crime from one jurisdiction into another with substantial effect... we would have reflected on that," he said.