McKinnon campaign urges coalition to block extradition
New ministers prodded to honour promises in opposition
Family and supporters of accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon are hopeful that the new Lib-Con government will honour promises made in opposition and bring a halt to controversial extradition proceedings.
Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg supported the campaign against the extradition of the Asperger's sufferer to the US to stand trial for hack attacks against US military systems back in 2001. US authorities have sought the extradition of McKinnon since 2005.
Gary's mum Janis Sharp wrote to Clegg on Monday calling on the new coalition government to intervene in the case ahead of a judicial review on whether former home secretary Alan Johnson was correct in discounting expert medical opinion on McKinnon's fragile mental state in allowing extradition proceeding to proceed.
The judicial review - the latest in a long series of legal challenges in the case - is due to take place on May 25 and 26.
Sharp told the El Reg that the focus of the campaign has once more switched towards political lobbying.
"The focus has changed. I'm hoping for a positive outcome before then [the judicial review]. I'm very hopeful and trust Clegg, [Chris] Huhne, Dominic Grieve and the new coalition."
McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner plans to ask incoming Home Secretary Theresa May, to reconsider the case, the Daily Mail reports. The paper adds that May was one of 160 Tory MPS who supported an unsuccessful opposition motion last year to reform extradition procedures between the US and UK.
Dominic Grieve, the new attorney general, will be a key player in any plans to modify the extradition treaty, which was designed to deal with the extradition of terrorist suspects and other serious criminals.
A joint program from the new coalition government promises sweeping civil liberties reform, including the abolition of the ID cards program and restrictions of the deployment of CCTV surveillance schemes. The coalition is yet to specifically address the question of reform of the US-UK extradition treaty, which allows Brits to be extradited to the US without the need for US authorities to present evidence but not the other way around.
McKinnon admits hacking into insecure US military systems in the hunt for UFO related evidence, but contests US damage assessments. McKinnon's supporters have consistently called for a UK trial during a five-year campaign. ®
No Yanks here yet, then?
I see that no-one has yet run smash-bang into missing the point and recommended avoiding doing the crime if doing the time seems unappealing. Then I noticed that it's only 8:20am on the US east coast.
When you do wake up, my good colonial friends, remember that the question here is not whether McKinnon should be punished, but whether a British subject should be extradited to the US for a crime committed while he was in his home country - and the fact that, were the situation reversed, the UK would have no ability to remove a US citizen from America with the same evidence. We usually blame Tony Bliar [sic] for that piece of faux-anti-terrorism.
The issue is not whether or not he should suffer a penalty. The issues are fairness and appropriation of blame.
First Gary allegedly caused $700,000 worth of damage. Whether or not those numbers are completely made up, his punishment should be appropriate to that damage. Let's look at the damage done to the economy by bankers. $7,000,000,000,000 if I remember correctly. So Gary's MAXIMUM punishment should be one ten-thousandth of the punishment meted out to the bankers.
If those numbers aren't completely made up then let's see a breakdown. How much of that bill was for the sysadmin to secure the system? That should obviously be deducted, as the sysadmin should have done that anyway. What exactly was damaged? Was some backed up data damaged? How does it cost over half a million dollars to recover stuff from backup? Was some non-backed up data damaged? Why would it be Gary's fault that data was not backed up? Why would it be Gary's fault that the data was not at least read-only for non-authenticated users? Did he cause some hardware damage? How would that be possible?
Secondly Gary wandered in to an unprotected system. The password was either non-existent or dead simple to guess. The sysadmin should be held responsible for not securing a system containing supposedly top secret info and that could suffer damage worth $700,000. But where is the news on the sysadmins of that system being punished? And why was that computer attached to the internet in the first place? There are two parties responsible for a hacker entering an unprotected system, just as any homeowner who left a door wide open and complained about getting burgled would expect the insurance company to be less than sympathetic. Plus this happened AFTER 11/9, remember, when the US was allegedly on high alert. So was this a honeypot system?
Thirdly the US wants to "make an example" of him, and punish him yet more for "not co-operating". Gary's perfectly valid fear is that if extradited to the US and put on trial there, he will be subjected to a mock trial and thrown away basically for life, and stuck in a jail thousands of miles from his loved ones. That is an inhuman result that the US have not ruled out. We know the US already has a number of inhuman and possibly illegal measures: the death penalty, and Guantanamo Bay. Gary might not get either of those, but he will be subjected to the whims of an unnecessarily harsh regime.
And as has already been mentioned the extradition treaty with the US is very one sided. They just have to ask. We have to prove our case in one of their courts of law. So the treaty must be renegotiated. And in general we have to stop being the US's lapdog; we are a sovereign state in our own right and until not long ago far more powerful than the US, things have changed, but as a British Citizen I hate the way our government gets ordered around by the US and just takes it all.
Nobody says Gary should not face trial. Let the US prosecutors come to a British court and make their case, including explaining why Gary gets all the flak and the sysadmin gets none, and have a UK judge decide Gary's fate based on the sysadmin's failure. The internet changes stuff but it doesn't change everything: this is a British citizen committing an offence while on British soil. If you want a comparison, what if you were to make a mucky phone call to a Yank? Would you be prosecuted for that here or in the US? Here, of course.
"So Gary's MAXIMUM punishment should be one ten-thousandth of the punishment meted out to the bankers."
That would mean giving him a small bonus.