'Disappointed' US ready to talk on extradition

Gary McKinnon's case has prompted a serious chilling of relations between US and UK
Gary McKinnon's case has prompted a serious chilling of relations between US and UK
Alex Stevenson By

The American government is "open" to talks about Britain's extradition arrangements with the US, a top official has said.

Attorney-general Eric Holder showed willing to talk about the US-UK extradition treaty after home secretary Theresa May refused to extradite Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.

The Asperger's syndrome sufferer was judged to have been at risk of suicide had he been sent to the US, where he faced up to 60 years in prison.

Holder had previously been quoted as feeling "completely screwed" by that decision. He is thought to have refused to have taken May's calls in the wake of her decision.


That has triggered fears that the 'special relationship' between the two governments may be in crisis. Holder denied there were any problems in interview on the Today programme this morning.

"We certainly felt disappointed with that decision given the fact that prior home secretaries and judges in the UK had made the determination that he could be extradited," he said.

"But the relationship with the special one, and the relationship I have with Theresa May is indeed a good one.

"We have a range of issues upon which we have to talk and agree. I think we are in a good place. We were disappointed by the decision that was made, but that was just one item we have to deal with."

Holder cited a review of Britain's extradition arrangements with the US by court of appeals judge Sir Scott Baker, which concluded that the treaty was "fair and balanced", as he argued there were "misperceptions" that needed to addressed.

"We need to talk about that some more and try to correct the misperceptions that exist between… two great allies," he added.

"We're always looking for ways in which we can improve the relationship… but one of the things I'm here to do is to discuss the nature of that extradition relationship, and to the extent we can make it better we are certainly open to that."

Poor relations between the Home Office and the US government suggest that the Americans are not prepared to fundamentally overhaul existing arrangements, however.

One source told the Telegraph newspaper last month: "This was a cheap political trick by Theresa May to further her political career.

"Mrs May told us in July that there were no legal or medical grounds to block his extradition, and then she changed her mind without having the decency to inform us."

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