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back to article Final decision by Home Sec on McKinnon extradition due today

The Home Secretary is expected to announce whether or not the government will block Gary McKinnon's US extradition in Parliament today. Theresa May is due to deliver a decision on whether the Scottish sysadmin's medical problems as an Asperger's Syndrome sufferer are sufficiently severe to block extradition. A possible appeal …

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Pardon?

Todner said:

We hope that our elected government will uphold the promises they made whilst in opposition ...

That will be a first

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let me be the first to say

F*ck the Yanks!

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FAIL

Re: let me be the first to say

And, hopefully, the last.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: let me be the first to say

F*ck the Jews Muslims Catholics Protestants Asians Blacks Homosexuals Hindus Chinese Yanks!

At last! I've found a group of people I can pick on and not be called a right wing racist nutjub.

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Anonymous Coward

Quickly....

Into an embassy!

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Black Helicopters

Cruel and unusual punishment

10 years since he was arrested. 7 since extradition proceedings started.

I would think he's suffered enough.

If the UK authorities had taken their own prompt action back then, we could have had:

- a useful case to serve as a guide for later ones

- very possibly a conviction

- maybe a deterrent to others

and it would all be over by now.

Instead we have had an appalling muddle, and a long-running, embarrassing example of kowtowing to Uncle Sam.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

The problem is that the exact punishment cannot be determined until he had the trial, which is what he is trying to avoid. IMHO the argument that he has Aspergers is flawed and somewhat insulting to other people with that condition, all that can do is offer possible relief of sentence.

On the other hand, I can agree with not wanting to go to the US because since George Bush came up with extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo Bay it hasn't exactly been a bastion of law and order (ther's irony for you, because all of this was to "defend Western values" - I guess he meant capitalism, not human rights), and the trial could be nothing more than a showy wrapper around a probably pre-determined outcome.

All things being equal, those 10 years should exceed the amount he would be convicted to (AFAIK he didn't actually cause any damage) and he should be free to walk, but possibly with a criminal record. But there is no way to be sure until he has been in front of a judge.

If they keep McKinnon at home, he still has the problem that he has committed a crime for which he has not yet been to trial - what's going to happen with that?

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Meh

Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

@AC 08:08

Aspergers is not one particular condition, it is on the Autistic scale. It covers everything from nearly autistic to barely noticeable. To complicated it further, it is not linear, but covers different disorders that can express themselves in multiple ways. So each person has to be considered on their own.

So unless you know his precise condition, I don't understand how the argument can be flawed per se, especially since it rests on compassionate grounds.

I couldn't agree more about the US though. Having seen their (in)justice system get to work on a healthy family member, McKinnon won't last long there.

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FAIL

Re: Cruel and unusual punishment - "Defending Western Values"

Unfortunately, poor ol' Homer Bush, and a whole bunch of other people, fell neatly into the trap that Osama set for them.

Result: they destroyed their own democracy, almost without him having to lift a finger.

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Silver badge

Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

Google 'Jack of Kent Gary McKinnon' and learn something.

The blogger (David Allen Green) now rights for New Statesmen and is no fascist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

> f the UK authorities had taken their own prompt action back then

What action? The UK authorities did not have any evidence of him hacking into computers in the UK.

He is accused of hacking into computers owned by the US government and located on US soil so it is the US government that is bringing the charges.

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Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

What he did was a crime in the UK and he commited that crime from his armchair while in the UK.

If you were standing in the US and shot a gun across the border to Canada and killed someone then your crime was done in the USA, if it was the other way around then your crime was done in CAN. Yes he should have been tried on it, and the USA shouldnt have made such a big fuss about it.

Your country should defend you from other nations, not throw you out to avoid the hassle.

Imagine if watching porn or using the word "Fag" became illegal in the good ole USA and all of you 20 a day w****** were sent over there to have justice done?..

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Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

"He is accused of hacking into computers owned by the US government and located on US soil so it is the US government that is bringing the charges."

This is a very slippery slope.

As far as I am concerned, everything he did, he did in the UK. He committed a crime in the UK. He never left UK jurisdiction. Therefore, he should be tried in the UK.

If this does not apply, then we enter a grey area every time we go on the internet. Even if you are accessing the website of a UK company, the site may be based in the US (or indeed anywhere in the world). It would be reasonable to expect UK law to apply, but if the server is located in the US, does US law apply? Are you going to be extradited? Where does it end? What if you post a comment on a UK site which a group of US citizens find offensive? Similarly with other countries in the world.

Simple rule: If you are in the UK, UK law should apply. If you are in the US, US law should apply. If you are in China, Chinese law should apply. Wherever you are, you should be subject to the local law. Otherwise, how the hell are you supposed to know which legal system you are operating under?

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Re: Re: Cruel and unusual punishment @ MR J

"What he did was a crime in the UK and he commited that crime from his armchair while in the UK...." It's the Internet, it allows you to commit crimes in other countries from teh safety of your armchair. The servers he deliberately broke into for malicious reasons were in the States so they can charge and extradite him.

".....Your country should defend you from other nations....." Which is how he has wasted ten years and a shedload of taxpayers' money.

".....Imagine if watching porn or using the word "Fag" became illegal in the good ole USA....." Well, you'll be in real trouble if they outlaw talking complete bullsh*t.

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Re: Cruel and unusual punishment

> As far as I am concerned, everything he did, he did in the UK. He committed a crime in the UK. He never left UK jurisdiction. Therefore, he should be tried in the UK.

> Simple rule: If you are in the UK, UK law should apply. If you are in the US, US law should apply. If you are in China, Chinese law should apply. Wherever you are, you should be subject to the local law. Otherwise, how the hell are you supposed to know which legal system you are operating under?

---

My knee-jerk reaction was to agree with you. In this case there is ample legislation with which to prosecute him in the UK, and the alleged crimes were directly caused by his actions in the UK.

But something else I was reading said "What if you are a terrorist who devises a plot to kill a lot of people in another country? The plot goes ahead and kills people, but you stayed in your country of origin and didn't take part in the actual execution of the plot. Where should you be tried?"

Abu Hamza is now on his first ever visit to the US. All the things he is accused of, he did whilst in the UK or elsewhere.

Al-Megrahi, convicted for the Lockerbie Pan-Am bombing, never set foot in Scotland, but was tried by a Scottish court in the Netherlands, and eventually transferred to prison in Scotland.

So I don't think there are any easy answers. Even if McKinnon had been tried in the UK years ago - and some of sort of precedent was set - suppose there was a hack which directly caused death or injury in another country. Where should that be tried?

No easy answers.

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Anonymous Coward

Not consequential

Mr McKinnon suffers from Aspergers and is at high risk of suicide. Indeed this has now been confirmed by psychiatrists instructed by the Home Secretary who state 'we can not offer reassurances that Mr McKinnon would not attempt to, or be successful in, harming or killing himself if he is arrested or extradited'.

Sorry to be pedantic here, but that McKinnon has Aspergers does not automatically mean he's going to top himself - you can be perfectly fine as an Aspie.

Any non-Aspie would fail to offer guarantees too if they are shipped off to the land of cowboys to suffer a show trial that can only have one outcome. However, the crime *was* committed, and extradition requests should normally be honoured if they are legally correct, or we will find next that Assange(tm) will claim to be suicidal too to avoid UK jail time and extradition to Sweden.

My apologies for bringing him up this early in the day, but the law should be equal for all. If can't do the time, you ought to reconsider doing the crime - breaking into other people's/nation's systems is *not* a game.

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Re: Not consequential

The sentence you quote does not claim that one "automatically means" the other. What's your point?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

Mr McKinnon was only diagnosed with Aspergers after he was arrested, which is rather convenient.

There is no physical test for Aspergers, especially the supposedly mild case McKinnon has (which is why nobody even noticed it until 6 years into the extradition proceedings).

The more cynical amongst us might think he is faking it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

People with Aspergers are usually lacking in empathy. If you're lacking in empathy they you're not really that sensitive about other people and their computer systems.

You can't really judge a person with a form of autism in the same way you would judge someone without autism.

Just like you can't really try a paranoid schizophrenic for murder in the same way as someone without the condition.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

> People with Aspergers are usually lacking in empathy. If you're lacking in empathy they you're not really that sensitive about other people and their computer systems.

Empathy or lack of it is irrelevant. What matters is if he was aware of what he was doing.

> You can't really judge a person with a form of autism .... paranoid schizophrenic for murder in the same way as someone without the condition

You are wrong on both counts. In the UK, the insanity defence only works if:

a) You do not know your action are wrong.

b) Did not understand what you were doing.

Autism and paranoid schizophrenic can be offered as mitigating circumstances for sentencing but if you knew what you were doing was wrong then you will be tried and judged the same as anybody else.

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Facepalm

Re: Not consequential

The fact he was only 'diagnosed' well into the process - nobody, not his mum, not his lawyers, suggested he should get diagnosed until the last minute - puts the diagnosis into the same category as whiplash diagnoses after a minor car accident. The category is called 'complete bullshit'.

In any event, it does not support the notion that he was too crazy (or should that be 'neurologically differentiated') not to be extradited.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

I was diagnosed with aspergers at 38 years old, which was rather inconvenient and I suspect McKinnon would have preffered an earlier diagnosis too.

It is easy to be cynical towards the claims especially with Ryan Cleary of Lulzsec fame also having aspergers. Yet is is some parts of the aspie trait that is very valid in relation to hackers. Be it the empathy thing or the high knowledge in narrow field of interests, which these days often relates to computers due to their the fact they are accessible in your home which is good for aspergers sufferers who don't like going out and socialising.

As an aspie who was in NASA computers way before McKinnon allegedly committed this 'crime', I can see a side to this that you just can't.

If you see this a crime or not, McKinnon should have been tried in the UK as that is where the offence took place. Not left in Limbo all these years based on an extradition law sold to us on the pretence of extraditing terrorists.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

> Empathy or lack of it is irrelevant. What matters is if he was aware of what he was doing

People are all different as to where they draw the line between right and wrong. Some may think port scanning a web server is wrong, others think it is wrong at the point of trying to gain access, some at the point of looking at files after gaining access, some at defacing and some at actually destroying webserver files or bootup files.

Website defacements are a minor annoyance and happen daily. It not like infecting people with trojans and stealing their bank details and spending their cash. So this case has been made into something big when it is minor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

> Empathy or lack of it is irrelevant. What matters is if he was aware of what he was doing.

The Assange/wikileaks case has shown us that the world is split between the people who think he did right and those who think he did wrong. Even the courts wouldn't be able to decide if what he did was wrong (except the biased US courts). So there is no clear cut definition as to what someone does is right or wrong, even if they knew what they were doing.

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Silver badge

Re: Not consequential

I think by posting messages on compromised computers about how piss poor the security was shows that he was aware of what he was doing, and who he was doing it to.

He has to be seen by the authorities that he is held to account for his actions, but the Americans justice system is considerably harsher than the UK's.

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Silver badge

Re: Not consequential

"I think by posting messages on compromised computers about how piss poor the security was shows that he was aware of what he was doing, and who he was doing it to."

I actually think this is more helpful to the defence than the prosecution.

He left messages telling them that he found it reasonably trivial to break in to their supposedly top security systems (at least that's what they are telling everyone). If he could do that, on his own as a "hobby", then the Chinese/Russian/<insert other govt the US are paranoid about> with their resources would have no trouble at all. He left them a clear warning that they needed to increase security.

To me, this boils down to semi-ethical hacking. Yes, he broke in and looked though some documents, but he did not cause damage and warned them that their security was inadequate.

The US are pushing this because they are embarrassed that it happened. They are making out that serious damage was done (I suspect the monetary "damage" they talk about was spent upgrading their security). They want to paint him as a terrorist, which is how he will be treated if put on trial in the US, in order to cover up their own security blunders.

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Re: Not consequential

"Mr McKinnon was only diagnosed with Aspergers after he was arrested, which is rather convenient."

You (conveniently) forget the fact that the diagnosis was suggested by Simon Baron-Cohen - a leading authority on the condition - and NOT by Gary, his mother, or his supporters.

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Re: Not consequential

He deleted system logs and installed remote access software on multiple systems, both in Government and Universities and has admitted this. A bit more than a simple website defacement, which is still a criminal act.

His original defence was it was a political act and that was why he wouldn't get a fair trial, so you can see why there has been much examiniation of his diagnosis with Asperger's several years later.

You are attempting to apply the Mens Rea test to the charge, however given he has admitted it, taken actions to cover his tracks and left provactive messages which he submitted as part of a defence statement early on, then surely that test fails.

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Re: Not consequential

"I suspect the monetary "damage" they talk about was spent upgrading their security"

They may have spent it... but certainly not on upgrades - there have been numerous reports since that show security is just as bad even now so, as you say, <enemy du jour> will have no trouble at all getting in

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FAIL

Re: Re: Not consequential

".....Even the courts wouldn't be able to decide if what he did was wrong....." They don't have to, all they have to do is look at the evidence and decide if he broke the law.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not consequential

He left messages telling them that he found it reasonably trivial to break in to their supposedly top security systems (at least that's what they are telling everyone). If he could do that, on his own as a "hobby", then the Chinese/Russian/<insert other govt the US are paranoid about> with their resources would have no trouble at all. He left them a clear warning that they needed to increase security.

This is what gives me a problem. On the one hand, what he did WAS a crime, but it took place on US soil so we have this extradition issue. On the other hand, as far as I know he didn't actually cause damage and if he indeed issue warnings I have a problem with labelling this as heinous a crime as the US makes it out to be - as a matter of fact, I find it hard to consider this a true "crime".

In any case, although I support shipping criminals to where they can face trial for what they do, I am *extremely* weary when it comes to the US system of justice, because it has veered towards the Mark Twain opinion that it is a system "where justice is dispensed with".

So, from a legal angle I may have mixed feelings, but from a purely humane perspective and that of true justice I'm happy with the decision.

Now let's see how everyone piles in and claims credit..

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FAIL

Bullshit politics and lawyers

The whole case has been a farce from the beginning. I honestly couldn't care less about the outcome. What I do care about though is the fact that it has taken 10 years to arrive at nothing. It shows what a farce that politics ans the law have become.

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Re: Bullshit politics and lawyers

But look on the bright side: think how much money his lawyers have made out of this.

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Re: Bullshit politics and lawyers

Actually, I tend to agree. The fact that a case that isn't murder can last 10 years is a nonsense. One side's legal arguments should have been found out before now. Something has gone wrong.

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Bronze badge

Re: Bullshit politics and lawyers

Absolutely. Try him here, get it over with a week on Monday, no more story.

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Re: Bullshit politics and lawyers

>It has taken 10 years to arrive at nothing.

This is the result of having professional politicians many of whom are either still in nappies or if out of them still haven't learnt to wipe their own backside. There should be a minumum age for MPs and they should be able to demonstrate some real world work experience.

Other examples of long running political fiascos same outcome and still ongoing

War in Afghanistan

War on drugs

War on terror

Why does it always have to be war? Why can't it be sensible policies on...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bullshit politics and lawyers

Chris, war is the quickest and least controlled way to convert tax revenue into private equity.

That's why there will always be war :(.

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g e
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Holmes

A great opportunity for the USA

To demonstrate their magnanimity and give up on the petty, farcical affair.

Oh, the USA. OK. Scrub that.

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Look, we've handed over Hooky and a few other minor rabble rousers, dont we get anything back in return?

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe he should ...

... visit Assange in the embassy and ask him for advice.

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The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

It's that the alleged offences were committed from the UK.

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Alert

Re: The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

If someone were to fire a gun on the French side of the Rhine and deliberately kill someone on the German side, in which country would/should they be tried for murder?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

Which makes the question of whether extraditing him is in keeping with the treaty the main concern. As has already been pointed out, you can't just ignore treaties willy-nilly. His offences may have been committed from the UK, but their impact was in America. Maybe future "UFO hunters" will have the foresight of keeping their hacking restricted to, and from, the country where they want to be tried if caught.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

> Maybe future "UFO hunters" will have the foresight of keeping their hacking restricted to..

The UFO defence does not exist. It is not present in any court documents. The claim that he was looking for UFO materials has only been made in the media.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

Unfortunately the country pressing for extradition believes that an American serviceman firing American made bullets from an American made gun and killing Afghan civillians whilst stationed in Afghanistan should be tried in America.

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Re: The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

'If someone were to fire a gun on the French side of the Rhine and deliberately kill someone on the German side, in which country would/should they be tried for murder?'

In a sane and just world, the French side. The French should consider it as serious an offence as the Germans (and some might say they are), while the Germans should trust the French to see that Justice is indeed done.

On the other hand, in a land that doesn't 'get' that there is no place for revenge in 'Justice'...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Asperger's angle is not top of my concerns

@Ian Johnston

Well, I would assume that the police forces of both countries would actually cooperate, and the victim's country would supply evidence to the "alleged" murderer's police who would use it to prosecute the "alleged" killer in his own country where the crime took place. That is, the actual location of the firing of the gun.

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Black Helicopters

Hacker, yes. Extradite, no

Whilst I agree that extradition is completely over the top in this case, he should certainly stand trial in this country.

His defense of "I was looking for evidence of aliens" doesn't quite seem hold up however...

If that was the case, surely he'd just have looked. The allegations that he stole passwords, deleted accounts and left messages taunting their lax security measures seems to point to something a lot more sinister than just "looking for evidence of aliens" IMHO.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hacker, yes. Extradite, no

> His defense of "I was looking for evidence of aliens" doesn't quite seem hold up however..

This claim was only made in the media.

> The allegations that he stole passwords, deleted accounts and left messages taunting their lax security measures

The allegations are that over a 14 month period he hacked into 96 computers in 5 different US Government departments and copied files and deleted operating system files.

> he should certainly stand trial in this country.

The witnesses are located in the USA, the evidence is located in the USA and since some of it involves sensitive materials the UK police might not even be granted access.

Over here he could only be charged with "unauthorised access" and not with the more serious offence of "unauthorised modification" because all of the evidence is in the USA.

Had he accepted the plea bargain in 2003 he would have been back in the UK in 2004 to serve his sentence and released in 2006.

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Re: Hacker, yes. Extradite, no

"The witnesses are located in the USA, the evidence is located in the USA"

And the people who are still in jobs at the Pentagon, and NASA, who should have tightened up security on their systems before this happened... and have yet to do so even to this day... are in the USA - and looking to cover their arses

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