McKinnon family welcomes extradition treaty review
Fate of Pentagon hacker still rests in politicians' hands
The coalition government's decision to review extradition law has been welcomed by family and supporters of Gary McKinnon, even though it's unlikely to have an immediate effect on his case.
Home Secretary Teresa May announced plans to review the UK's extradition arrangements on Tuesday in response to long-running complaints that the existing system, introduced in 2004, is unfair. US authorities are not required to present evidence in making extradition requests, a requirement of reciprocal extradition proceedings from the US to the UK.
The review, announced in a written statement to Parliament on Tuesday, will consider whether requesting states should be required to provide evidence and whether the US-UK Extradition Treaty is unbalanced, among other questions. The review is expected to take around a year, reporting back in summer 2011.
Criticism of the "one-sided" extradition treaty between the UK and US has been a cornerstone of the long-running campaign against attempts to extradite McKinnon to the US over alleged hacks on US military systems in 2000 and 2001. McKinnon was first arrested in 2002 but extradition proceedings only began in 2005, after the controversial treaty came into effect.
McKinnon and his supporters have been fighting for him to be tried in the UK, if anywhere, for more than five years in a high-profile campaign that has attracted the support of public figures, disability charities and the Daily Mail.
Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mum, the dynamo powering a campaign that has attracted the support of many UK politicians and public figures such as Terry Waite and Pink Floyd frontman Dave Gilmour, welcomed the extradition review while stressing that her son's fate still rests with politicians.
"If they put a hold on all extraditions until the changes are made and the treaty re-written that would do it but is too far away," Sharp told El Reg. "Even after the results of the review they would have to give six months notice before changing the treaty.
"I think that Theresa May/the coalition will eventually rule that Gary can't be extradited because of deterioration in his mental health. Alternatively Obama's and Cameron's teams will agree Gary can be tried in UK," she added.
More thoughts on the review by supporters of McKinnon can be found on the Free Gary support blog here. ®
Crimes committed in another country
Given that burning the Koran would be a crime in many middle eastern countries, I wonder if the Americans would extradite Pastor Terry Jones to one of their allies in The War Against Terror (maybe Saudi Arabia) upon request.
As I understand it, the Americans have refused several offers for Gary McKinnon to be tried in the UK, despite the fact that he was in the UK when allegedly committing the crimes in question.
One sided is right
Whilst the USofA has ratified the treaty, the level of proof they need to grab anyone from the UK is non-existent whilst the UK must prove it has a case in a USofA court before any extradition, It is high-time our "ally" stopped treating us like the enemy and dealt with us on a fair basis.
What McKinnon is was wrong, no doubt on that, but he only managed it because in the 15-odd years the USofA has had to increase security since Clifford Stoll raised the alarm, they have done jack-shit.
We should, in this instance, try McKinnon in the UK, punish him here (if the cased is proven) and tell the USofA to shove it. Of course, maybe the USofA will just "extract" him covertly - they have form for not caring on the legalities of foreign countries or individual freedoms.
If we're going to extradite anyone, it should be the moron that drafted and signed us up to this very one-sided deal with the US in the first place!
They should be brought to task to explain why the hell they thought it was a good idea.