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UK: Cameron urged to pardon Alan Turing

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Eleven top scientists, including physicist Stephen Hawking, are calling on British Prime Minister David Cameron to pardon codebreaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of homosexuality in the 1950s, The Guardian reports.

"Successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual. We urge the prime minister to exercise his authority and formally forgive the iconic British hero," the scientists say in a letter to Cameron. Turing, who is credited with helping to hasten the end of the Second World War when his team cracked the German Enigma code, died of cyanide poisoning two years after being convicted of gross indecency at a time when homosexuality was still illegal, the report states. His death is recorded as a suicide.

In 2009, former prime minister Gordon Brown issued a posthumous apology to Turing, calling his treatment "appalling." Still, Turing, now recognized as a computing pioneer, was not officially pardoned. In February, the government rejected a call to pardon him, despite being presented with an online petition with more than 23,000 signatures requesting it, the BBC says.

"A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence," said Justice Minister Lord McNally in dismissing the motion in the House of Lords.

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