US anger over UK decision to block extradition of computer hacker
Published 21/11/2012 | 09:50
THE US Attorney General has admitted that he was "disappointed" with British Home Secretary Theresa May's decision to block the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon.
Eric Holder pointed out that previous home secretaries and judges had indicated that Mr McKinnon could be extradited to America.
But he denied claims that the issue had damaged his relationship with Mrs May, which he said "is and remains strong".
In a major victory for supporters of Mr McKinnon, who has been fighting extradition since 2002, the Home Secretary announced last month that she would not allow it because he was "seriously ill".
Mr McKinnon, 46, has Asperger's syndrome and suffers from depression. He says he only accessed US government computers to look for evidence of UFOs.
Asked whether he felt "completely screwed" by the decision - as was reported at the time - Mr Holder said: "No, not at all. We were certainly disappointed by the decision, given the fact that prior home secretaries and judges here in the UK had made the determination that he could be extradited.
"But the relationship we have with the UK is a special one and the relationship I have with Theresa May is indeed a good one."
Mr Holder described Britain and America as "two great allies".
He insisted the extradition relationship between the two, which is widely believed in the UK to be tougher on British citizens, was "fair and balanced" and the subject of "misperception".
"If you look at the relationship in its totality and in a fact-based way, I think you can see the extradition relationship is indeed a balanced one, the appropriate standards are used by both nations, and that we work together in extradition as we do in other areas to foster our common needs," he said.