Home Office doc 'not qualified' to assess McKinnon suicide risk
Accused UFO hunting gov hacker still fighting extradition
Computer hacker Gary McKinnon has refused to be assessed for suicide risk by a Home Office appointed doctor, because the doctor chosen had no experience of patients with Aspergers, his mother Janis Sharp told BBC local radio today.
McKinnon, who hacked into US government computers in 2002, has Asperger's syndrome. The 46 year-old Londoner has been at the centre of an extradition trial since 2006 and an assessment of his suicide risk will be a key factor in the decision to send him to the US to stand trial.
McKinnon says he hacked the US computers because he was looking for UFOs.
McKinnon had until today to agree to the assessment, which he has now refused. Speaking today to BBC's Three Counties Radio his mother said : "he had no choice - it is an impossibility because the assessment they want him to have is by someone who has no experience and wouldn't be able to diagnose his suicide risk."
The doctor chosen - Professor Thomas Fahy - had never assessed suicide risk in Asperger's patients before, according to Ms Sharp.
There will be a hearing on Gary McKinnon's case in the High Court on July 24th. At the last hearing on July 5th, judges were told that Home Secretary Theresa May is close to a decision but wants a further medical assessment.
Previous medical assessments in April by three doctors with experience in Aspergers, appointed by Mr MckInnon's legal team, found McKinnon to be at an extremely high risk of suicide if extradited.
Doctor Jan Vermeulen concluded after a face-to-face assessment of Gary, that he was unfit for trial, writing:
“In my opinion Mr. McKinnon is currently unfit to stand trial and if he survives the transit to the USA, he will be so traumatised that he may remain unfit to plead for a considerable period. I strongly recommend that once Mr McKinnon has recovered from his current ordeal his trial takes place in the UK,” Ms Sharp informed The Register. ®
Updated to add
A Home Office spokesman has been in touch to say: "The Home Secretary will make a decision as soon as possible - this is a complex case, in a complex area of the law, and a large amount of material has been submitted, some of it relatively recently."
Is May Competent?
Can someone remind me if a doctor has examined Theresa May and certified that she is competent to make decisions on people lives in the face of a bully attacks?
This whole case seems to be based on some hairy chested bully, ranting from across the Atlantic, not the due process and application of "just" Law.
One begins to wonder what toy the bullies have threatened to withhold from May.
Speaking as a 52-year-old diagnosed Aspie. This is not an unusual situation.
Would it surprise anyone to hear that there are no therapy or support centres in the UK which specialise in dealing with adults with autism or AS? It's as if the condition disappears when the patient becomes 18.
As for McKinnon's demands for a specialist, then all I can say is that should be the first thought not the last one. The previous assessments regarding the condition sound pretty bloody accurate to me.
In 2006 I went to the US on my own, voluntarily, and only for a month to stay with a friend. I had major problems accepting the change in culture and I appear to be further up the spectrum than McKinnon. When I got home I went into a downward spiral which took me 6 months to come out from. Not helped of course by the lack of facilities here.
Autistics and Aspies think in totally different way to 'normals'. That has to be taken into account when being assessed.
Doesn't surprise me at all. The lovely wife is an aspie and has all sorts of issues that are compounded by the fact that, as a Swede living in the UK, she faces culture shocks nearly every day and still hasn't fully grasped basic idiom. She's seen several therapists over the years, only one of whom was in any way qualified to deal with aspergers cases and that only because he was an aspie himself. None of the others seemed to even understand what aspergers was, never mind how to properly assess her mental state or deal with the issues she raised. They treated her as simple depression in most cases. Mental heathcare in the UK is completely and utterly inadequate.
Late diagnosis didn't help matters either, nor did the fact that Swedish healthcare is apparently even further behind than the UK when it comes to mental health. Over there they said vad tusan and stuck her on antidepressants that made the situation worse for several years.
When I was a volunteer mediator I spent time talking to more than a few disputants who were also aspies and, in every case, the same basic refrain was repeated: there is no real help. They get bounced through the welfare system, have money and all sorts of pills thrown at them (or just the pills in a lot of cases), but they never get decent assistance and nobody tries to assess the issues they actually present. They're just expected to "grow up" and then treated like retarded children.
Took me years to even begin to understand how the wife sees the world. She still doesn't properly understand herself but we're trying to get her fully assessed and, hopefully, that will help matters along considerably.