Now to the story of a British man who has hacked into dozens of US military computers. Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the US. His lawyers object and say they'll take their fight to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. As Vicki Barker reports from London, McKinnon's case has become a rallying point for people in Britain who believe their government is too subservient to the United States.

(Soundbite of song, "Wanted Child")

Mr. GARY MCKINNON (IT Specialist): (Singing) (unintelligible)

VICKI BARKER: This is Gary McKinnon singing "Wanted Child," a song he wrote about his seven-year-long legal saga.

(Soundbite of song, "Wanted Child")

Mr. MCKINNON: (Singing) (unintelligible)

BARKER: McKinnon is a 43-year-old unemployed IT worker with Asperger Syndrome who belies the U.S. military is withholding crucial information about extraterrestrials. He admits hacking into Navy, Pentagon and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. The U.S. government says he did $700,000 worth of damage and temporarily crashed the Army's Washington network. McKinnon, who says he was looking for evidence of UFO cover up, fought his extradition because he feared the severity of American justice.

Mr. MCKINNON: The punishment should fit the crime. I'm not trying to get away from my punishment. I'm not saying let me off. I'm saying try me in the U.K.

BARKER: McKinnon's supporters argue he's the victim of a one-sided extradition treaty hastily passed after 9-11, which handed the U.S. broad latitude to request the extradition of British citizens without, they claim, giving Britain similar rights. The head of the opposition Conservative Party has called for the treaty to be reexamined. Boris Johnson - London's mayor and a Conservative columnist - has called on President Barak Obama to intervene and end what Johnson calls this last bit of neo-con lunacy. McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, has also appealed to the president.

Ms. JANIS SHARP: I'm just praying. Please hear us, Obama, because I know you would do the right thing. I know you'd have the strength to stand up and not have this.

BARKER: There is a perception here that McKinnon's case is a Bush-era injustice which this U.S. president would make right, if only he knew the facts. Ed Gibson isn't so sure. He used to be an FBI legal expert at the U.S. Embassy in London.

Mr. ED GIBSON (Former FBI Legal Expert, U.S. Embassy, London): This case is no different than any other case, other than the fact it's received so much publicity.

BARKER: And at least two British extradition lawyers have pointed out that the U.K.'s extradition treaty with Washington is virtually identical to its treaties with other states. And it was British prosecutors, upheld by the British High Court, who agreed that McKinnon should be tried in the U.S., not the U.K. McKinnon's supporters argue their government could and should have intervened. But another British extradition lawyer, Ben Brandon, doubts ministerial - or even prime ministerial - intervention would have been successful.

Mr. BEN BRANDON (Extradition Attorney): I think that Mr. McKinnon has failed at every hurdle because the arguments that he's raised have not been sufficiently strong to dislodge the presumption that people who are charged with serious crimes as he has should be extradited.

(Soundbite of song, "Cellophane")

Ms. SHARP: (Singing) Can you tell me when it's all over?

BARKER: It's a musical family. Janis Sharp has also composed a song about her son's long legal battle and her own grinding campaign against two governments on his behalf.

(Soundbite of song, "Cellophane")

Ms. SHARP: (Singing) If someone can, the world won't change. But I can't deal with all this pain.

BARKER: She's worried about how her vulnerable son would survive a U.S. trial and possible sentence in an American prison. The strain of this case, she says, has left him with chest pains and dizziness, in a constant state of terror.

For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.

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