McKinnon lawyers vow to take fight to US Supremes
NASA hacker loses judicial review
Lawyers for Gary McKinnon have launched an impassioned attack on the UK justice system, following a decision to allow extradition proceedings against the Pentagon hacker to continue despite his recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome.
Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie dismissed McKinnon's claims for judicial review on Friday ruling that extradition was "a lawful and proportionate response to his offending".
The ruling follows review hearings by the judges on whether successive Home Secretaries acted properly in disregarding McKinnon's recent diagnosis with a mild form of autism in allowing extradition proceedings to continue and, separately, the decision not to prosecute McKinnon in the UK, despite his offer of a signed confession to hacking offences in the UK.
Karen Todner of Kaim Todner, McKinnon's solicitors, reacted with disappointment to the decision but vowed to fight on.
"The extradition treaty was brought in to facilitate the extradition of terrorists and it must be clear to anyone following the case that Gary McKinnon is no terrorist," she said.
"The decision to extradite Gary was made by a Secretary of State, Jacqui Smith, who accepts she was not up to the job. David Blunkett, who led us into the flawed Extradition Act now wishes he had not and that Gary was prosecuted in the UK."
Todner fears for McKinnon's mental health if he is extradited to face trial and likely imprisonment in the US.
"Why aren't they stopping the extradition of a man who is clearly vulnerable and who on accepted evidence suffers from Asperger's? Gary is clearly someone who is not equipped to deal with the American penal system and there is clear evidence he will suffer a mental breakdown if extradited."
McKinnon's four-year campaign against extradition has featured failed appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights that focused on issues such as arm-twisting during early plea bargaining negotiations. His diagnosis with a mild form of autism opened up fresh avenues of appeal.
The decision by two senior judges on Friday that health grounds were insufficient to block McKinnon's extradition is a severe and perhaps fatal blow to McKinnon's long-running campaign.
McKinnon was first arrested in 2002. He has never denied accusations that he hacked into 97 computer systems run by US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. McKinnon has repeatedly said he only broke into poorly secured systems to hunt for supposed evidence of knowledge about anti-gravity propulsion systems and alien technology harvested from crashed UFOs that was being hidden from the public by the US military.
US prosecutors allege that McKinnon (whose hacker handle was Solo) caused $700K in damages and was responsible for crippling systems responsible for the tracking the location of naval ships months after the 9/11 attacks. McKinnon denies these claims of causing damage, repeatedly describing himself as a "bumbling computer nerd" rather than a cyberterrorist.
Lawyers for the former sys admin turned UFO military hacker are continuing to fight against his extradition despite Friday's setback. Todner added that she had sent an appeal - signed by a cross-bench group of 40 MPs - asking for US President Barack Obama to intervene.
"In the NatWest Three case the Attorney General flew to America to obtain assurances of bail from them - no such action has taken place for Gary, nor has he been promised repatriation immediately upon sentence," she said.
"I will lodge an appeal against this decision in the next 28 days and, if we can, will take the case to the Supreme Court if needs be, back to Europe. Ian Norris [one of the NatWest Three] has obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on judicial grounds and we hope to join that appeal."
McKinnon's fight against extradition has been accompanied by an energetic media campaign, drawing in autisim experts and high-profile celebrities such as Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, as well as politicians and the media. The Daily Mail recently began a high profile campaign that further publicised McKinnon's plight and the perceived injustice of the one-sided extradition treaty between the US and UK.
An opposition motion calling for a review of this extradition treaty was defeated in Parliament earlier this month.
During the debate Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, argued he had no power to block McKinnon's extradition.
Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mother, who has spearheaded the campaign, told reporters outside court that she feared she would never see her son again if he is extradited. ®
Clearly you have no idea what REAL is
Gary did not magically develop AS, it can be detected from about 3 years old, but most parents miss it. These days schools look for the signs (children not having interest in playing with other, using and taking everything very literally, becoming anxious about change of routine or expected events, obession for perfection in everyday tasks).
AS was documented just after the war but did not get onto DSM until the early nineties, so even if someone did suspect something, there was no means to diagnose it officially. To call Gary a liar when you don't even know him weakens anything you say. As for him admitting anything, to be honest I doubt he understand the full impact of anything he say, he is a vulnerable adult.
I can see why you want to remain an anonymous coward, it is about the only accurate part of your post.
Time to get REAL
Regardless if McKinnon magically just developed AS, he knew full well what he was doing years ago when he hacked the U.S. computers. He made bad choices and he's being held accountable for his bad choices like any other criminal. Using AS as an excuse is not going to work when all the evidence is presented to the jury. Gary is a liar and an admitted hacker who is going to be punished for his crimes like any other lowlife dirtbag criminal. Denial doesn't change reality or the law. Supporting this criminal shows how easily some people can be duped.
Isn't being disabled enough
I run a drop in centre for people with Aspergers Syndrome, I only wish some of the fools behind this decision (both in the US and the UK), had come along and got to know of few of them or similar people before making starting the extradition process.
They would meet people that may be highly intelligent but completely naïve; Aspergers is a social communications disorder. What does that mean? Well first off it means that they do not understand social rule like speaking out of turn, what may or may not be appropriate, how to read facial signals. On the communications side they are usually very lonely because they do not know how to initiate a conversation, they can learn some techniques but they don’t really know what to expect in return or how to respond to it.
Aspergers is at the high end of the autistic spectrum, the word spectrum is used because it affects all of the seven senses and every person affected has a differing degree of disability within each sensory area. They may be hyper or hypo sensitive to certain type of light, sound, smell, vibration, taste as well as being affected by balance and location.
YES is it a disability, it is very hard for people to understand it and so there are many people out there who are undiagnosed. I have met several who were not diagnosed till in their late forties / early fifties and each says it was a relief because they always felt different from “neurotypical” people (NT’s).
The other aspect of Aspergers is that they think in a robotic way, they thrive on routine and rules, but their innate ability to spot inconsistency in NT’s mean that they quickly see when we break our own rules. They can become fixated on any subject, for Gary it was UFO’s but along the way he may well have become fixated on computers and or the military. If he watched a film like Wargames it is likely that he would come away thinking that it was perfectly acceptable to hack into a Government computer as long as the underlying reason was not malicious and or there was a important (to him) purpose. At the same time, frustrated by a lack of response he might well escalate his behaviour, especially if he was trying to notify them of the lack of security in their systems.
The core of the disability is anxiety, when things don’t go as expected (rules or routine) or if they have a sensory issue they may react in an unpredictable manner. To observers this may be shocking as they may become repetitive, start shouting or just panic. To them it is as if the whole world has fallen from under them so it is difficult to bring them “back down to earth”. During this anxiety attacks it is extremely hard to reason with them, the easiest way (if possible) is to give them what they need and then prepare them for such change. Otherwise they may just need time (potentially many hours) to come to terms with the change or issue that has upset them.
In our enlightened society, would we punish a blind person for inadvertently breaking the law because they could not see? Of course not! When you know and understand this disability as I do you realise just how unfair and inappropriate this whole saga is.
If you want to peep through the window into the world of Aspergers you might have a look at the Aspies for freedom forums http://www.aspiesforfreedom.com/forums.php ironically they argue that Gary should not be treated any differently but this just highlights the fact that they do not understand some aspects morality (a social skill).
The fact that Gary left notes on US systems saying things like “It’s Gary again, you guys have still not plugged the back doors to this system”, shows that he was not malicious and had no comprehension of the wrong that he was doing.
Ironically GCHQ employs people on the autistic spectrum like Gary because of their incredible ability to unravel codes and for their amazing attention to detail that we mere mortal NT’s miss. This often involves creating a special working environment with no phones or florescent lights and dealing with any individual issues.
I see little point in mounting appeal after appeal to go against the law because that is all judges can deal with, we need to appeal to the people behind the decision to extradite him and that means directly to Barack Obama who has thus far shown himself to be quite a sensible US President.
Diagnosis of Autism and Aspergers is currently running at a rate of close to 1 in 100, so chances are someone you know is affected. I always think that there is a little bit of autism in all of us, sadly we continue to misunderstand and malign because we do not take the time to understand.
In the UK we already have our own shameful Aspergers tragedy, the case of Piers Bolduc who was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to Broadmoor for over 14 years. Don’t let them make another such mistake, please write to Barack Obama directly via the white house website (see link below) and ask him to intervene on Gary’s behalf.
For further information about Autism and Aspergers Syndrome visit the National Autistic Society website at www.nas.org.uk
If you want to understand how vulnerable someone like Gary would be in any corrective institution then go read “send in the idiots” by Kamran Nazeer.