Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Saturday, 10 April 2010 15:21 UK

McKinnon mother stands for Jack Straw's Blackburn seat

Janis Sharp on her decision to stand in Jack Straw's Blackburn constituency

The mother of computer hacker Gary McKinnon is to stand for election in Jack Straw's Blackburn constituency.

Janis Sharp, who lives in Hertfordshire, said she blamed the justice secretary for pushing through the extradition treaty with the US.

Under the treaty, her son, from Wood Green in London, could be sent to the US for trial.

But defence lawyers say an assessment of his actions has to take into account his Asperger's syndrome.

Mr McKinnon is accused of breaking into military computer systems.

A spokesman for Mr Straw said it was right that people with differing views were able to stand in the election.

He said: "In a democracy, it is right that people are able to stand in elections and put their case.

"I am sure there will be lots of views heard over the next few weeks and it is good that people are able to do that."

Ms Sharp, from Hertfordshire, who intends to stand as an independent candidate, said she believed Labour was responsible for eroding civil liberties.

I don't expect to get in but I feel civil liberties need a voice
Janis Sharp

"Jack Straw led us to believe the extradition treaty would only be used for terrorists, but it is not being used for this," she said.

"Once these things are brought in, we don't know where they will go next. It's very frightening."

Last year, the Labour government defended extradition laws with the US saying it had simplified the rules while still protecting the rights of suspects.

The Conservatives have said the law was not being used, as intended, to fight terrorism, and the Liberal Democrats said that cases such as Mr McKinnon's "underlined the injustice" of the treaty.

In July 2009, home secretary Alan Johnson said the government had to act in accordance with the law, which it believed provided sufficient safeguards.

Extradition battles

The computer systems allegedly hacked into by Mr McKinnon, 44, include those at the Pentagon and, if convicted, he faces 60 years in prison. He claims he was seeking evidence of UFOs.

Mr McKinnon's lawyers and family have fought a series of long-running court battles in an attempt to avoid his extradition claiming that his Asperger's syndrome accounts for many aspects of his behaviour.

He has claimed in the past that he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

A judicial review of that decision will be heard at the High Court at the end of May.

Ms Sharp, who said she had voted Labour in the past, said it was time for people to "vote with their heads, not with their habits".

She also said she did not believe she had any chance of winning the Blackburn seat, but felt she wanted to make a stand.

"I don't expect to get in but I feel civil liberties need a voice," she said.



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SEE ALSO
Tories challenge extradition law
15 Jul 09 |  UK Politics
Profile: Gary McKinnon
31 Jul 09 |  UK

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