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back to article Blow for McKinnon as extradition treaty ruled 'not biased'

Extradition arrangements between the US and UK are not biased against British suspects, a review of the controversial extradition treaty concluded on Tuesday. The ruling is a setback for supporters of alleged Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon and others who have campaigned against the 2003 treaty, which they continue to argue is one …

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Anonymous Coward

Poor Gary

Poor, poor Gary. He's just misunderstood and suffering from arse wipe syndrome. I'm sure the U.S. will take real good care of Mr. Gary.

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Indeed

You have to wonder why given that there appears to be significant evidence against him, he admitted at least some guilt, and the US have accepted his Aspergers diagnosis, he didn't just go and get the time done.

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@Titus

You miss the point. The Gary McKinnon case is about hysterical hatred for Americans, solely for being American. It is not about the law, facts, or elementary common sense. Who cares about those details?

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Anonymous Coward

Advice to KcKinnon

Buy a cat

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WTF?

This is a litmus test for the Govt...

They promised not to extradite. If they do, and God forbid the poor tortured guy tops himself in a US gulag, the reverberations will be immense. It could swing any election.

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Facepalm

The government did not promise not to extradite. It was not in their powers to do so, nor that of any Labour government.

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But the USA never ratified it ...

so how can it be anything other than one sided, ie biased. ''Baffled'' is putting it mildly!

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Actually they did ratify it, about five years ago, it just took them a year or two longer than the UK.

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Facepalm

Yes, they did ratify it:

http://london.usembassy.gov/ukpapress48.html

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When one considers that the US is refusing NO requests from the UK, whilst the UK has refused a half dozen or more, I'd say that it IS unbalanced - in favor of the *UK.*

Oh, wait - Facts aren't allowed when discussing a cause célèbre.

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@laird

Out of interest, how many requests have been made by the UK?

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@laird

To add to Richard 81's question, have you considered that the UK simply makes sure it has evidence of an actual crime before extraditing?

I am sure out military security is equally as bad, but the kind of holes that McKinnon found have been there since the 80s! If 25+ years is not long enough to secure your system, then you deserved to be hacked!

Read "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Clifford Stoll and see just how little has changed.

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Stop

But ....

The US could have ratified it at a sell-out concert with Elvis and Hendrix providing the mood music ... the US supreme court still has the power to ensure it does not breach the US constitution. And therefore, the standard of proof in the US will never be as vague or low as in the UK.

If the UK requested the extradition of someone, and the US supreme court believes the evidence is not good enough ... tough luck.

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Since most of the comments seem to hinge on McKinnon's case and the review actually hinges on requirements for evidence here's the thing: McKinnon has actually admitted the offence and still does not deny that he comitted the offence, therefore there was no actual requirement for evidence. As such even if the judicial review had decided that the requirements for evidence were one sided it would not have made a blind bit of difference in McKinnon's case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @laird

"I am sure out military security is equally as bad, but the kind of holes that McKinnon found have been there since the 80s! If 25+ years is not long enough to secure your system, then you deserved to be hacked!"

The military fetishists are only insistent on making an example of McKinnon because there's nothing they can do to undo their own ineptitude. It's the same thing with Bradley Manning: you have a low-ranking operative achieving superspy levels of intelligence disclosure, and all the "semper fi" shouting morons can do to soothe their hurt pride is to lash out at the person who merely took advantage of the incompetence of their superiors (arguably on moral grounds), all while the next transgressor is presumably well on their way to pulling off something similar.

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Boffin

@Richard81, the BigYin, et al

Between 2004 and thus far in 2011, there have been 130 request by the US, and 54 requests by the UK. Of those requests, 7 have been denied by the UK, and 0 by the US.

That works out to slightly better than 1 denial per 19 requests, or a percentage of slightly over than 5%. Whereas, the US is refusing exactly 0% of the UK requests.

As to the suggestion that the evidentiary standards presented by the UK are substantially superior to that presented by the US, and having actually *paid attention* to the various farces in the UK court systems, I can only laugh uproariously at the sheer absurdity of such an assertion. Not, mind you that I'm suggestion the US prosecutors are in any way perfectr, but to suggest that somehow the Crown Prosecution service is hitting 100%? Entirely laughable!

By the way, if anyone actually cares about *facts* - I know; not permited when blatant bigotry is the prime motivator - this treaty was intended, among other things, to address an actual, legally-definable bias against the US in extradition standards as set in the 1870 accord.

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"extradition treaty ruled 'not biased'"

... Outrageous.

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Unhappy

Not even ruled upon

Just "policy advice" by a retired "judge". Just an opinion, then, that carries no legal weight at all(but yes, fucking outrageous to a ridiculous degree). I'll be interested to hear their "explanation" of this position.

How many El Reg commenters believed the Tories' pre-election bedtime stories about how anti-authoritarian they were, & how they were going to repeal this or that dodgy law? I had the impression it was quite a few. They must have short memories or be too young to remember <sarcasm>the glorious outpouring of liberty & freedom for all that was the hallmark of the Thatcher/Major years </sarcasm> The whole point of the Tories is that they don't change, on the inside anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Splitting hairs?

Pointing to the requirement for "probably cause" to extradite in one direction versus "reasonable suspicion" as being "bias" is a bit of a stretch - particularly when in reality, the US has refused NONE of the UK's extradition requests, while the UK has refused seven US ones ... not to mention dragging its heels for almost a decade in this particular case, where it seems pretty clear the evidence (including an admission of guilt!) would easily exceed both thresholds anyway.

After the Knox fiasco, where an Italian court jailed her on the basis of evidence that wouldn't be sufficient to back up a parking ticket let alone a murder conviction, I'd worry more about that direction than any US court; to call Pelugia's a kangaroo court would be an insult to marsupials.

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Surely the difference "probable cause" versus "reasonable suspicion" is down to the difference required for an arrest warrant in the two countries anyway. In the US only probable cause is required to justify an arrest while reasonable suspicion is required in the UK.

If a UK citizen were to be arrested in the US on a US arrest warrant they would not get very far by arguing that the warrant was invalid because the police when applying for that warrant did not present evidence that they had reasonable suspicion to justify that arrest.

The argument that McKinnon committed his offence in the UK is just bullshit. He admits that he knew the computers he was attacking were in the US therefore he knowingly committed an offence on US soil.

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Obviously

McKinnon apart, we the public asre being mislead - the Judiciary have said so. Would they care to explain? Words of many syllables are acceptable.

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Devil

Get him in the post.

The part Janice seems to miss is the part where her son hacked US military networks, a fact he has admitted to, what did he think would happen ? Just because I leave my back door open does not make it legal for someone to enter my house uninvited.

The crimes where committed on US soil since that is where the computer systems reside, he committed his hack from the UK but it's about time we all stopped shielding someone who admits the crime.

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The point isn't whether he committed an offence or not, but by whose standards he ought to be judged. If somebody and hacks into a computer in the UK, stupid as it is, they might expect a suspended sentence (certainly at the time the offence was committed), not to be locked up for 25 years to life as a potential terrorist!

Think through the implications. Let's say you forward a funny pornographic chain email to your friend who happens to be working on an oil rig in the Gulf, should you be extradited to Saudi Arabia? You post on a blog about Tibet and get extradited to China?

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Anonymous Coward

But in the extradition request...

... they are not charging him for walking through an open door. They are charging him for the cost of fitting new locks, a brand new 6 inch thick steel door and 24/7 security guards.

The whole extradition request is a farce as the reparations figures claimed on it, are exactly the figures needed to secure an extradition from the UK, not a penny more, not a penny less.

That's not to say that McKinon isn't guilty of something. Just not the lie the US government is propgating to get an extradition to cover their own arses for leaving their doors wide open.

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Anonymous Coward

The actual hack was perpetrated from the UK

Because the criminal was in the UK when he committed the crime. That means that the crime was committed in the UK.

MacKinnon's computer didn't even talk directly TO the military systems- it was through a complex series of routing agents and other networky gubbins. So from the UK, he commanded his computer to tell another computer to tell a router to [internet stuff happens] to tell a router to tell a router to send a packet to a computer that filtered the packet and then passed it onto it's destination address. So the crime was entirely contained within the UK, though the effects of it were felt in the USA.

I'm sure you could, if you were really wanting to cause trouble (or were a Lawyer wanting to stretch this out a few more months), argue that the lack of any passwords on the Admin accounts he used meant that he was authorised to use it as there was no access control, i.e. it was impossible to NOT be authorised. You find your way to the computer, you use a 20-year-old standard password (presumably 'root' or 'administrator') and no password and you're in. It's as secure as having it located around a few sharp bends in the road.

See, this is why there needs to be an 'Internet' principle laid down. My money would be on "it's only illegal if it's illegal where you are when you do it". Otherwise you have to accept Chinese laws even though you're in the UK. Looking at porn featuring an 18 year old- would that be legal because it was filmed and hosted in the UK, or illegal because the age of consent for such things is 21 in your state? Or both (a principle which I shall now term 'schroe-dong-er's pussy')?

Or how about a murder across state lines? Discharging a firearm isn't necessarily illegal, and being shot isn't necessarily illegal. So with your 'it's only a crime if it's illegal where it has an effect' would let a murderer go- but 'shooting with intent to kill' would be a crime if you go with the 'where he's standing', so the criminal wouldn't get off with it.

Basically, the idea that 'the hacked servers were in the USA so the crime was committed in the USA' opens a really, really big can of worms. "Stick by the laws of wherever you are" is a much, MUCH less can-of-worm-y law.

And leaving your back door open makes it a lot less illegal for someone to enter your home illegally- it removes the 'breaking' from 'breaking and entering'. Would you really prosecute someone as badly if they'd just wandered in through an unlocked door rather than smashing in a window to gain access?

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Illegal entry is illegal entry. Period. Whether or not the door was unlocked, or poorly locked, is entirely beside the point.

When you trespass, you aren't charged with where you stood *before* you committed your crime, you're charged with where you were actually trespassing. And that trespass happened in the physical United States - He doesn't get a pass simply because computers give him long legs.

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But the victim is in the US.

Suppose you were the victim of an Internet scam. Would you prefer the scammer to be extradited from Lagos and tried in the UK, or to face a Nigerian court?

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Nigerian vs UK courts

Nigeria is actually keen to see 419ers stop dragging their country's name through the mud. I clearly remember the full-page ads in the newspapers placed by the Nigerian authorities making it clear that these scams were, indeed, scams, and that it wasn't legal even there. Indeed, we call these scams 419s because section 419 of Nigeria's criminal code makes these scams illegal there.

The problem is that Nigeria, like many places in the Third World, has a justice system that is ineffective and corrupt even on a good day, so it's relatively rare for these guys to even be caught by the police. Once caught and put in front of a judge, however, they are likely to have fun extracting their nuts from the wringer.

So, yes, I'd quite fancy seeing these guys in a Nigerian court, if you can persuade the Nigerian police to do their job...

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FAIL

"Illegal entry is illegal entry. Period"

The jackety-fuck it is. If he had visited a website that had no password set no-one would have given a toss. What's the legal difference between port 80 and port 22?

You put a computer on the Internet unprotected, public access is implied.

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Anonymous Coward

trespass

Trespass alone is a civil matter in the UK, not a crime.

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Anonymous Coward

If you want to use the word trespass perhaps I'll point out he was physically never present in the US. This is law, not armchair analogies

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Anonymous Coward

Great. But guessing a username and password (even if it was reported to be blank) is effectively looking at a bunch of doors, noticing a lock, and trying a key to see if it works then stepping through said door and having a bloody good rummage around...

If an foreigner popped over on a plane and did this at your house, your want the bugger extradited and the full extent of the law slapped on him. This is what is happening in this case.

He knew what he was doing was wrong and that can not be argued. Simples.

The argument is should he be extradited - yes, in theroy as he commited a crime against the states and we have an extradition treaty. Should it be considered terroism - probably not.

All in all, he should of been locked up a long time ago and he is just making a continued mockery of our justice system. To all that argue, dont do the crime if you cant do the time.

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@Steen Hive; et al

@Steen; you are clearly and legally wrong. You can whinge all you like, it does not change the legal facts. Get over it.

@ the rest; crime is extraditable. Get over it. But this wasn't just a simple, run-of-the-mill crime, it was knowing (and confessed) intrustion into military systems - That raises the stakes.

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Confussion?

I think that part of the reason that the treaty is viewed as lopsided is that the two legal and political systems, while similar, have important differences that affect when and how an extradition request is made. An article comparing the two, written by someone with experience of both, would be much appreciated..

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Happy

For you, sir...

http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2010/06/skeptic-looks-at-mckinnon-case-part_13.html

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This is getting silly now

There seems no doubt that McKinnon committed a crime by UK law or by US law. He should of course face some form of punishment. There were of course security issues in the systems that he very easily penetrated - in the same way that there are security issues at my local supermarket that would allow me (if I so desired) to walk out with a bunch of stolen products hidden under my coat. I could (if I chose) take a bomb unchallenged into my place of work and detonate it because of a similar lack of security. Just because something is possible doesn't make it reasonable, the whole fabric of society as we know it is based around that simple principle.

I can see the logic of extradition and trial in the place where his crimes were (by virtue of connectivity) committed if he came from a place where it would seem likely that his offence would be swept under the carpet and not properly punished. Gary, however, is based in the UK. We are not a country which has no concept of due process, acceptable and reasonable judgement of the severity of his crime and allocating appropriate punishment. The US should accomodate this fact I think and allow him to be tried in the UK and face appropriate punishment here - I don't think his defence argument is that he shouldn't face prison time, just that as a UK citizen he should pay for his crimes in the country that he was born and resides. They would have no hope whatsoever of extraditing a similar hacker from certain other countries, and by the same token as the above just because extraditing him is "possible" because of the treaty we signed that doesn't make it "reasonable".

Many would add to this that in his individual case he is (if you consider his diagnosis of Aspergers rather too convenient) still an obviously introverted, awkward and nervous man and that the extradition process would cause him huge stress. To be honest I don't think this argument is particularly relevant as I'd consider the point above to be sufficient. We can handle this internally to the satisfaction of the Americans, so it seems reasonable that we should be permitted to do so. To force extradition by definition implies that they consider our justice system substandard or too lenient, and to implicity make that assertion is in diplomatic terms rather an insult that no serious nation should be levelling against another.

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Anonymous Coward

The only problem with this...

... is the UK judicial system originally looked at this case, and decided that there was no case to answer. McKinon was found to have commited no crime punishable by UK law. It was only after 9/11 when new law was applied retrospectively, the US re-raised the matter of extradition, i.e. they wanted him extradited under terrorist legislation for a crime that the UK authorities had already been determined did not deserve punishment.

New law should not be applied retrospectively, otherwise, when the law is changed, eg if the speed limit was lowered from 70 to 60, the government could start to bring to court, all those people travelling at 70 before the limit changed. Or when drugs are reclassified, you could pull in all those people either taking drugs legally at the previous time.

This is the kind of thing you expect from Dubai, not the western world.

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"To force extradition by definition implies that they consider our justice system substandard or too lenient, and to implicity make that assertion is in diplomatic terms rather an insult that no serious nation should be levelling against another."

It implies no such thing, whether by definition or otherwise. Extradition did not begin with Gary McKinnon, and won't end there. It has been a lawful way for nations to ask other nations for suspected criminals on their territory to be returned to face trial. Where extradition treaties do not exist or are otherwise difficult to enforce, injustice is seen to prevail - e.g. Costa Del Crime.

With the exception of the extradition stuff, your post is on the money.

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Anonymous Coward

Very reasonable... Except.

UK justice is, by American standards, notoriously lilly-livered. Mass-murderers are allowed to walk free and be sent home to heroic wlecomes without consequences; terms of "imprisonment for life" seem to mean about fourteen years or so, and the like.

Now, I'll grant you, the Lockerbie bomber was held under Scottish law, but you can see where we might have some serious concerns about 'satisfactory perfomance' under the law.

Now, if you could be trusted to apply AND stick to the same sentencing guidelines we'd use for the crime in question, then sure, you all could be allowed. But, simply put, we *don't* trust your abilities to live up to that standard. After all, look how long its taken you to extradite a confessed criminal.

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Anonymous Coward

... And American justice is about as competent as its computer security.

As for mass murderers getting off lightly, does the name William. Calley ring a bell ?

People in glass houses and all that ...

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Coffee/keyboard

Comparing Gary McKinnon to Magrahi is ridiculous. One is a mentally damaged shut in who admits to hacking a system that should have been inaccessible, the other is a man who was charged with the destruction of an aeroplane and the death of 270 people.

And even at that, and as a Scottish person myself - there's no way Magrahi was the mastermind behind the whole thing. An attack of that size would require intensive planning and logistics and expertise which it's pretty widely accepted Mahrai does not and did not possess. The real criminals are long gone - what's the point in holding a man dying of cancer? The Scottish justice system is one based around compassion as well as judgement, and I'll tell you this - I'm proud of it, but I don't see anything to be proud about in the vindictive extradition of a mentally confused man.

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+1 from this Englishman.

The American "justice" system is full of people screaming for vengeance, and compassion is a foreign word. They're lunatics: what is the point, really, of sentencing someone to 200 years or something? Do they keep the bodies in prison when the prisoners die, and put up with the stink, or are they lily-livered and dispose of them?

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Unhappy

The 'greater than life' sentences

Have to do with

a) Laws regarding early release - i.e., being released before your roriginal sentence comes to term for good behavior etc

b) Maximum sentences

So a judge cannot just sentence someone to 'life in prison without parole' because he feels like it, but he can sentence you to, say, 20 years per crime multiplied by X crimes committed to make sure you are no longer bothering society. In other words, by the time you are eligible for parole, you will be too old (or too dead) to worry about. It can ensure psychopaths don't get an early release due to technicalities of the law, introduced, well mainly probably because of overcrowded prisons, but also to provide for methods of leniency.

Personally, I'd argue it's our penal system, not judicial, that's in greater need of updating. Punishment with no thought to reformation is really not working out.

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FAIL

And she's right....

Its a totally one sided agreement. Brought about by that grinning twat blair and labours policy of pandering to the USA.

I thought the tories would have had a bit more spine. More fool me.

I truely despair for this country in 25 years time...

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Mushroom

At least

Blair wasn't around for Vietnam - he'd have been there like a shot(see icon). That was one of the shocking things about "New" Labour - their slavish adoration of the US, the last place on earth you'd expect any social democrat to look to for inspiration. It was always the Tories who loved the US - remember Thatcher & Reagan, and of course today we have the example of "Atlantic Bridge" a dubious organisation to say the least.

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Anonymous Coward

Totally one sided.

In the UK's favor, based on the numbers.

Time for the winging little git to face the music for his self-centered stupidity.

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Anonymous Coward

Grenada

Although Thatcher was always supportive of the US in its foreign activities, I can't recall (my memory at fault, not lack of incidents perhaps) cases where the interests of the two clashed except the invasion of Grenada.

Now that was an incident where the US annoyed the Iron Lady

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Alert

To be fair

she got their backs up by insisting on going into the Falklands, despite Reagan personally asking her not to. And then she proved the US "intelligence" embarressingly wrong when we won in less than 3 months.

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One of the reasons why I admire Harold Wilson ...

while it may have been more out of fear of his own party than any moral standard, he was very definite in keeping the UK *out* of Vietnam, despite intense US pressure for us to go in with them.

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Thatcher also went ballistic when the US attempted to block Britain from supplying gas turbines for a gas pipeline from the Soviet Union.

She was also willing to tell the US what to d;, it was Thatcher, not Bush who first proposed confronting the invasion of Kuwait, famously saying 'George, don't get wobbly.'

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