back to article Home Secretary unmoved by last-ditch McKinnon protests

Self-confessed Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon ought to answer serious criminal charges in the US, the Home Secretary told MPs on Tuesday Alan Johnson defended his recent decision to allow extradition proceedings against McKinnon - despite medical opinion that the autism sufferer was a suicide risk - in an appearance before the …

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Alan Johnson only listens to views which suit him anyway

He forgets that his job is to represent the will of the people, not tell them what their will should be. He's going to find out in a few short months just how many people support his views.

Goodbye and good riddance (and this is from a 30-years Labour voter).

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No it isn't.

If that was his job, every decision he made would require a referendum to find out what the "will on the people" was.

What evidence do you have that a majority of the people oppose his extradition?

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Flame

"What evidence do you have that a majority of the people oppose his extradition?"

The voting on here for a start, you numb-nuts.

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poll starts here

Vote one for the motion that Johnson is a spinless limp one who need to grow a pair and do what is right...not what some over-abused american process says is right in order to cover up their own failings.

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Do get on with it!

If he'd shut up and done his time he'd probably be out of jail by now.

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Or..

He might get a 'life means life' sentence.

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

Firstly being suicidal is not a defence against extradition. If that were the case anybody up for extradition could threaten to top themselves.

Secondly extradition treaties are not solely intended for terrorists.

The more this drags on the more bollocks is spoken by his supporters.

And why are his supporters so keen to have him tried in this country anyway? This is a country where taking a photograph can land you in hot water under anti-terror laws. He has already pleaded guilty so there would surely be no trial, just sentencing. And since he's been such a pain for the judiciary over the last few months are they likely to look on him fondly?

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Anonymous Coward

@FFS

"Firstly being suicidal is not a defence against extradition... Secondly extradition treaties are not solely intended for terrorists"

No the defence against an extradition treaty intended for serious crimes, is to challenge the EVIDENCE that the crime is NOT SERIOUS. However Labour negotiated a lapdog treaty, that DOES NOT REQUIRE THE USA PROVIDE ANY EVIDENCE to get an extradition.

So instead we have these side challenges about the medical conditions, minor details of the procedure, the side issues.

"And why are his supporters so keen to have him tried in this country anyway?"

HIS Supporters? His?!! They are arguing for the right OF ALL BRITS to see and challenge the EVIDENCE against them as required by their fundamental rights. This treaty DOES NOT LET THEM SEE OF CHALLENGE THE EVIDENCE FOR EXTRADITION.

There is nothing special about this McKinnon extradition, the treaty is FLAWED but because it was negotiated under Labour, they refuse to fix it in case they lose face. Today it's extraditing an unpleasant youth under this treaty, but they'd extradite anyone on any bullshit claim simply to NOT LOSE FACE and admit this treaty was another labour fuck up.

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FFS back at you.

"Secondly extradition treaties are not solely intended for terrorists".

This one absolutely and explicitly is.

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Reasons

There are two reasons to feel strongly about this. One is that the US needs a showcase trial to establish that people shouldn't break in to their poorly secured systems, so they'll want to put a massive showcase sentence on there. That's a little unfair, but the guy knew he was taking a risk when he committed some crimes and there's no point coming all "wah wah wah" about it when he gets caught for it. We can be fairly sure that the punishment will be massively out of whack with the crime in terms of damage done however and it will have a lot to do with politics and nothing to do with justice. As ever, severe sentencing will have no effect on crime because criminals simply do not think about the consequences of getting caught when they are committing crimes.

The one that concerns me more than the individual case is that if an american Garry McKinnon broke into MoD computer systems we would have no equivalent power of extradition. I think we should be blocking this on principle until the US enacts their side of the treaty that gives them the power to arbitrarily have british citizens arrested.

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@FFS

"...extradition treaties are not solely intended for terrorists."

You miss the point entirely. He has been charged in the US with offences under their anti-terrorist legislation. The application for extradition was made with reference to those charges.

"being suicidal is not a defence against extradition."

Extradition is a process whereby someone accused of a crime in a co-committed country can be sent to that country and tried there. "Defence" is a process whereby you deny a crime and poresent evidence which you hope will prove your innocence. They are two separate processes. You may influence the decision in an extradition application by presenting mitigating information or evidence which may have an impact on the thinking of the authorities; I would think that mental health would fall into this category.

I really don't understand what your argument is; perhaps you should read up on the involved processes and become better informed prior to commenting again?

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Serious crimes only?

>>"No the defence against an extradition treaty intended for serious crimes, is to challenge the EVIDENCE that the crime is NOT SERIOUS."

So this treaty was only intended for some crimes, with others proceeding under a different process?

What is that other process, and what is the definition of which crimes are covered by which process?

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Stop

I like traffic lights

I think that the majority of people opposing his extradition are doing so as it highlights a gross inequality in the treaty that allows it to happen at all.

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Serious crimes only

Britain has had an extradition treaty with the US for years. It requires evidence of the crime to be presented so that a defence against extradition can be mounted. THIS extradition treaty is a special NEW TREATY designed expressly for terrorist cases where the threat is so great that normal checks and balances should be circumvented in the interests of national security. It was drawn up jointly by the US and Britain in the aftermath of 9/11 and rushed through Parliament by methods of dubious legality that bypassed proper debate by those elected to represent the views of the people.

In the US this treaty was thought such a bad idea that US congress refused to expose US citizens to the threat of the abuse of such a treaty. They would not ratify the bill until the presentation of evidence bit was put back in. The result is that UK citizens will be handed over to US authorities on demand but the reverse is not true. No wonder it pisses people of then.

To late for us Brits though our idiot government foolishly trusted the US and ratified the treaty immediately. They also foolishly trusted the US not to abuse the treaty by using it to pretend that the term 'terrorist' covers not only suicide bombers and others who seek to impose their will by violent means but also idiot UFO conspiracy theorists.

A massive and unwieldy FAIL that the government cannot acknowledge without a massive loss of face and an inquiry into just how dirty this back-room deal really was, Some that the US are not happy to talk about either.

Special relationship my arse.

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Badgers

Haha

I love the way someone (the original commentard?) has gone through and downvoted ever reply in opposition. Yeah! That'll teach 'em!

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@Hugh Pym

>>"THIS extradition treaty is a special NEW TREATY designed expressly for terrorist cases where the threat is so great that normal checks and balances should be circumvented in the interests of national security."

Evidence?

Or are you just attempting irony, by making claims without actually having any?

>>"It was drawn up jointly by the US and Britain in the aftermath of 9/11"

Then I guess David Blunkett must have been psychic, since he was talking about how good the treaty was going to be 6 months before 9/11.

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Heart

Ha ha x 2

Will this one be downvoted too? Someone has a persecution complex.

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Evidence?

"Then I guess David Blunkett must have been psychic, since he was talking about how good the treaty was going to be 6 months before 9/11."

It's about how it was sold to the UK. It was always talked about in terms of anti_terror legislation in order to get enough support. That is what everybody thought they were getting. This is the type of spin it got over here:

"The home secretary is to travel to the US this week to meet US officials over the war against terrorism. He said he would be meeting Tom Ridge, the US head of homeland security, to discuss sharing intelligence, information and technology. He said the discussions would also include consideration of sharing "issues around vaccines and new techniques". Mr Blunkett said he also plans to meet US Attorney General John Ashcroft about a new extradition treaty he hoped to sign. He said he would also hold talks with other US politicians about balancing security and liberty and "rebuilding a world of mutuality rather than people going it alone". (BBC 30 March, 2003)

It came into force 1 January 2004.

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Well...

Good luck with that. I don't see the Queen going against the Home Office's decision, no matter how spineless it may be.

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Anonymous Coward

It is a great shame

That this young man has had his life ruined by this.

I don't condone for a moment what he did, but neither do I believe the law under which he is being dealt with is appropriate.

He has committed a crime, but has had years of this uncertainty hanging over him. The law should be fair and should operate in a reasonable time frame. It doesn't look like either is true here.

I don't buy the "he should have just gone in the first place and it would all be over" argument. When it was first decided he should be extradited, the noises from the US as I recall them indicated he was going to be made an example of, so naturally he appealed against it.

I also don't buy the "if you can't do the time don't do the crime" simpleton argument, as this is all retrospective legislation.

The Aspergers is an aside and is just being used in desperation having run out of legal alternatives, all avenues having been closed off by our own government in what seems to me to be an unfair and one sided extradition arrangement with little or no burden of proof of damages on the prosecution.

It smacks to me of prosecution under an inappropriate law, in a similar way to the way badly drawn up anti terrorism legislation has been used for purposes other than that stated when it was brought to statute.

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@AC 13:11

>>"He has committed a crime, but has had years of this uncertainty hanging over him. The law should be fair and should operate in a reasonable time frame. It doesn't look like either is true here."

So how fast do you think the extradition process should be?

Do you think fewer appeals should be allowed, or that appeals should be fast-tracked?

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Anonymous Coward

@david wilson

"So how fast do you think the extradition process should be?

Do you think fewer appeals should be allowed, or that appeals should be fast-tracked?"

If you bothered reading to the end of the comment, you would see quite clearly that I am suggesting that it is inappropriate, not too slow.

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@AC 16:39

Even if you don't think he should be extradited at all, you can't really complain about the length of time involved due to his numerous appeals unless you can suggest a realistic way to change that without limiting the amount of possible appealing, or unless you just think there should be fewer ways of appealing against extradition.

It seems like he would have been extradited even under the previous treaty.

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Anonymous Coward

@david Wilson

"you can't really complain about the length of time involved due to his numerous appeals unless you can suggest a realistic way to change that without limiting the amount of possible appealing, or unless you just think there should be fewer ways of appealing against extradition."

You seem unable to read or perhaps comprehend the whole of a comment and keep trying to pick apart bits of it out of context.

As I have said 3 times now, If you bothered reading to the end of the comment, you would see quite clearly that I am suggesting that it is inappropriate, not too slow.

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Anonymous Coward

Alan Johnson MP

Swap your own name for McKinnon. Imagine YOU faced an extradition treaty, which claimed YOU committed a milllion dollars worth of damage. Imagine how YOU would feel if you were not allowed to challenge the evidence of that claim. Imagine how you would feel about the Home Secretary Mr Alan Johnson MP, who knew the damages claim was preposterous, yet authorised the extradition anyway, refusing to overrule his predecessor Jacqui Smith.

Because a principle is being established here.

The principle that this exradition treaty, intended for terrorism and serious crimes, can be used for minor things, so minor that UK police decided it just wasn't worth bothering about, and other cases have resulted in magistrates fines.

And you cannot see the evidence, or challenge the misuse of the treaty because Labour negotiated the treaty to NOT EVEN REQUIRE EVIDENCE to be presented. The US of course are not so foolish, and required evidence before extradition.

And Alan Johnson MP will not protect you.

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Serious?

>>"The principle that this exradition treaty, intended for terrorism and serious crimes, can be used for minor things, so minor that UK police decided it just wasn't worth bothering about, and other cases have resulted in magistrates fines."

Who said it was intended solely for terrorism and serious crimes, and what did they mean by 'serious'?

I understood it covered crimes with potential sentences of a year or more in both countries, which at least seem to be non-trivial crimes, even if some people might not consider them *really* serious.

What do *you* think the limit should be, below which someone could commit a crime elsewhere and then do a runner here in safety?

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Anonymous Coward

Serious about Serious

"Who said it was intended solely for terrorism and serious crimes, and what did they mean by 'serious'?"

The definition is here, read it for yourself:

http://www.army.mil/cgi-bin/

Oh wait, you just visited a military computer and tried to hack into their cgi-bin folder. Naughty you. You caused $700000 in damages, I'm not going to provide evidence of it, or even claim what you did that caused any actual changes. However since hacking is a crime in both countries, I want you extradited.

So what is serious? It's completely meaningless in a system where no evidence is offered and no challenge against the evidence can be made.

"What do *you* think the limit should be, below which someone could commit a crime elsewhere and then do a runner here in safety?"

Good point, why don't the Israeli extradite their ex Generals to face war crimes charges? What do you think? Evidence of bombing of civilian targets is recorded by the UN, shouldn't the government hand over the generals concerned to face war crimes charges?

We have that Infra red recording they offered as proof of missile attacks from the school, the one dated 2007 on Youtube, yet claimed as happening in 2009. We have the dead kids from the UN school they destroyed. We know the white phosphorous use against civilian targets.

So is that high enough to extradite, David Wilson?

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Anonymous Coward

Slightly contrived

>What do *you* think the limit should be, below which someone could commit a crime elsewhere and then do a runner here in safety?<

SInce he never left here

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Silver badge

Shanghaied ....... and on the Road to Nowhere with Pocketsful of Empty PROMISe*

Have Labour sold out National Sovereignty for Capitalist Market Reward ..... Thirty Dirty Pieces of $ilver?

Which is Real Dumb in todays Volatile Trading Climate of Dodgy Market Conditions, whenever Tomorrows are Host Full of ZerodDay Surprises.

*http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/pandora/052401_promis.html

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Anonymous Coward

Are you sure he has plead guilty?

Guilty to what?

Perhaps, he was under duress, maybe he has lied about whatever it is, maybe he has been misquoted, could something have been attributed to him that he was not aware of?

Lots of room for reasonable doubt over all of this.

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WTF?

Actually, blame Blunkett

Obviously Blunkett was so taken with scoring a married woman he forgot a clause in the vile act.

"This act does not come into force until that of the U.S.A. becomes effective."

The British screwed, once again, by Blair.

P.S. Last thing I heard about this idiot Blunkett was that a Derbyshire cow had scored on him.

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FAIL

Erm right? This is American "Justice" remember The biggest wallet wins...

If he'd shut up and done his time he'd probably be out of jail by now

Simon

I doubt that very much - The Americans are famous for throwing anyone who is not a rich white guy from the US of A in prison and throwing away the key....

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Grenade

Not necessarily

You must live in another part of the US than I do. Prison overcrowding spurs lawsuits and courts order prisons to release non-violent offenders early. Hacking isn't murder, rape, arson, assault, rape, or kidnapping, so he may get a relatively light sentence of ~2-3 yrs (as a guess). With good behavior in prison, the sentence may be reduced by 1/3.

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Dirty backroom deals.

I'm not going to discuss the rights or wrongs of this case.

But, given the revelations appearing in the Iraq inquiry, one wonders exactly what pressure is being exerted by US government on UK government.

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Black Helicopters

*sigh*.

I don't dispute for one second that GMcK is guilty of his crimes. He should do time for it, of course, he broke into US Govt systems without authorisation and that contravenes laws in both countries.

But, to me the unfair part of all this is that he's being tried by a system that has repeatedly been shown to be open to abuse and lobbying power. It's ultimately corrupt. I'm not saying the UK is all that much better but our courts system is a f--kton fairer than theirs. He's probably going to be sentenced to life, or holed up in Gitmo after being found to fall foul of some little caveat of the Patriot Act and the US media will make a total pariah out of him.

This whole case proves two things; that Labour don't give a flying monkeys about the citizens it's supposed to be serving, and that the US government will do anything to silence anything embarassing to them in the name of terrorism.

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Terorists?

As for not extraditing terrorists (or anyone else) to somewhere where they might face a death penalty, I thought the general procedure was to get an assurance that a death penalty wouldn't happen and then extradite?

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Down with the Home Secretary

The US is wanting to make an example of McKinnon to try and cover up the massive failings there were in US security. He managed to hack in with a commercially available product, administrator passwords were left blank or in the comments field, how could they have been so stupid?

I agree that McKinnon should be put on trial but not in the US, he should face his peers in this country.

The Home Secretary is a fool and a coward that really needs to strap a pair on.

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Never has so much bollocks been talked about a treaty

Myth #1: It has not been ratified by the US

It was ratified by both sides in 2007 http://www.usembassy.org.uk/ukpapress48.html

Myth #2: It is easier for US prosecutors to meet the standard of proof required for an extradition to the US, than for a UK prosecutor to get someone extradited to the UK.

Not true. The US prosecutor is requried to show 'information which would justify the issue of a warrant for the arrest of a person' and the UK guy has to show "probable cause". These are a similar legal standard.

Myth #3: Gary McKinnon would not have been extradited under the old arrangements.

Not true. Under the old arrangements the US would have had to show prima facie evidence. His admission of guilt goes way way WAY beyond that requirement.

Myth #4: He cannot challenge the evidence.

His team have tried various challenges including this, but the evidence is easily enough to meet the standard for extradition. The proper forum for challenging any evidence now is in court (in the US). The fact that he's doing his best to avoid this tells a lot.

Myth #5: He was in the UK when his actions are alleged to have taken place, so should be tried in the UK.

If his actions are an offense under US law then he can be tried in the US. This is no different from if you were standing in Dover and shot someone in Calais. You would be tried in France.

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Anonymous Coward

Myth #2, A person not THE person

Myth #2,

No, they produce evidence that the crime is serious enough to extradite *A* person, i.e. that they are claiming it is a serious crime as a general concept. Not, evidence that THIS PERSON, THE PERSON THEY WANT EXTRADITED, committed THAT crime to THAT serious level.

So evidence that hacking is a serious crime, the sort of crime that a person could be extradited for. Not evidence that McKinnon committed a crime that is serious enough to extradite for.

---

Myth #3:

Under the old system they produced 'prima facie evidence' which WAS evidence that this person committed this crime. So yes the old system was better.

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Myth #4: He cannot challenge the evidence.

No evidence is offered and so no challenge can succeed. The evidence offered is that hacking can be a serious crime, not that McKinnons hacking WAS of the type of a of the serious crime.

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"His admission of guilt goes way way WAY beyond that requirement."

His admission of guilt to UK hacking charges was AFTER it became clear he had no challenge mechanism. It does not constitute acceptance that the conditions for extradition have been met, because they have not been met.

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"This is no different from if you were standing in Dover and shot someone in Calais. You would be tried in France."

What if I shot them with a camera and they claimed I violated the French privacy right? That is what we have here, the claims are not sufficiently strong to use the extradition treaty. Yet the treaty is structured to prevent such a challenge.

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Joke

He's not a ruthless international computer security threat

He's a very naughty boy.*

As Mrs Cohen put it.

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Anonymous Coward

Y-A-W-N

Ever criminal's Mum is sad when their son turns out to be a dirtbag. Ship McKinnon to the U.S. for prosecution and get on with life. It will be one more criminal off the streets and away from PCs for awhile.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, sounds highly improbable

that he actually did it. Is there any photographic evidence, witnesses of this guy's actions?

None that anyone has seen.

There is just some guy who people are claiming did something. Well people claim the oddest of things don't they, it certainly doesn't make them true or probable does it, for something to be probable you need strong evidence and that is lacking here.

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FAIL

Johnson also restated his determination...

... that the 43 year-old ought to be treated "fairly"

Just not by anyone in the UK, especially not the Home Secretary!

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Unhappy

It's a shame

That the fairness of the treaty had to be questioned with such a clear-cut case.

He admits he did it

Everyone knows he did it.

Everyone knows the US has the evidence.

Unfortunately #1 and #2 implies #3. If only the case in question did not have #1 (and thus #2), then it couldn't have #3 and thus the claims that the treaty is unfair would be given a fairer hearing.

How predictable that the first major 'abuse' of this treaty occurred when the fundamental criticism of the treaty is rendered mute by the defences own actions.

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Anonymous Coward

Everyone knows the claim is bollocks

He did not do $700000 worth of damage, the treaty is not for minor loss of face by the US military. It is not for parking tickets or upsetting someone important.

It it clear cut, the Home Secretary should do his job and reject the extradition.

Everyone knows this. It is a shame really that the treaty is being misused like this. Yet if Alan Johnson lets them do it, then next time it will be someone sweeter on even weaker claims.

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Flame

The reason I'm concerned is ...

... less to do with the hapless McKinnon's individual case (though the glib Mail-esque heartlessness of some commentards is stomach-churning) but more to do with the obsequious sycophantic toadying to the USA by Blair and, now, Brown that led to this lop-sided and draconian extradition treaty being signed in the first place.

To those who think we should roll over before the world's biggest bully and abandon McKinnon to his fate, remember "First they came for..."

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Coat

Should the strapline be

"Home Secretary unmoved by last-last-last-last-last-ditch McKinnon protests"?

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Linux

Referendum

So, let's have a referendum pretty damned pronto on whether Alan Johnson is a useless twat or not. Oh, and all his self-seeking, useless, appalling colleagues. There, I feel better now.

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