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Wikileaks cables say Gordon Brown pleaded for Gary McKinnon

Public pressure made Gordon Brown, and later David Cameron, plead the case of accused hacker Gary McKinnon to stay in the UK, according to leaked US embassy cables.

Gordon Brown threw his personal support behind Gary McKinnon when he was PM, according to the secret US embassy cables that have been leaking all over the Internet. McKinnon is wanted in the US for allegedly hacking into its military computer systems.

Brown offered a deal to the US ambassador that McKinnon would plead guilty and "make a statement of contrition" in exchange for serving his time in prison here in the UK. That's according to a October 2009 cable from ambassador Louis Susman to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, published by the Guardian and WikiLeaks.

McKinnon has Asperger's Syndrome, and Susman wrote: "Brown cited deep public concern that McKinnon, with his medical condition, would commit suicide or suffer injury if imprisoned in a US facility."

The US seemingly rejected the PM's deal, because McKinnon is still on the hook for possible extradition. But David Cameron has since taken up the call for McKinnon to stay in the UK, bringing up the case with Barack Obama in July.

Brown's call for leniency came around the same time as the furore over the UK releasing Ali Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, to a red-carpet welcome in Libya. With the US fervently opposing the UK's decision to free al-Megrahi, it was unlikely to be in a forgiving mood regarding McKinnon.

But McKinnon has won the sympathy of the British public, expecially among the geek community, based on his explanation that he was looking for evidence of UFOs when he hacked into the poorly secured networks and his self-identification as a "bumbling computer nerd".

Based on the WikiLeak cables, it was that public support for McKinnon which prompted Brown and Cameron to push the point with American power brokers.

"Cameron said he had raised the extradition with the ambassador... because the case was a matter of concern for many in the British public," wrote Susman.