A FORMAL complaint has been made by the US to the Home Secretary in protest at her decision to block the extradition of Scottish computer hacker Gary McKinnon.
A strongly worded letter from US attorney general Eric Holder has reportedly been delivered to the office of Theresa May.
Glasgow-born McKinnon was accused by US prosecutors of “the biggest military computer hack of all time”, but he claims he was simply looking for evidence of UFOs.
May stopped the extradition after medical reports showed the 46-year-old was likely to try to kill himself if extradited.
The row has been likened to the one caused by the Scottish Government’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, in 2009.
The cooling in relations between the Obama administration and May has seen Holder refuse to return her phone calls since she announced her decision on Tuesday.
A senior administration official said they had been kept in the dark by May about the announcement.
“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 changed her mind without having the decency to inform us.
“After all the controversy over the release of the Lockerbie bomber to Libya on humanitarian grounds, this decision does not inspire confidence that the British government is serious about dealing with serious security issues.”
Former home secretary Alan Johnson has already accused May of taking the “easy way out” by putting popularity before justice.
He said: “The US was entitled to request and expect extradition. Theresa May has not reached a brave decision, she’s taken the easy way out.”
As late as Monday evening, US officials were under the impression that the extradition would go ahead as expected, and a plane had been prepared to collect McKinnon. A US official said that as a result of the Home Secretary’s decision, the relationship between May and the US administration was effectively “finished”.