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back to article McKinnon will not be extradited to the US, says Home Secretary

The Home Secretary has blocked Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US. In a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, Theresa May said that long-running extradition proceedings against the 46 year-old Asperger's Syndrome sufferer would be withdrawn on medical and human rights grounds. Psychiatrists warned that the Scot was likely to …

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Hoorah!

Some sense at last.

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Re: Hoorah!

Excellent news.

Although I would suggest that Gary doesn't celebrate with a holiday in Florida. In fact, he might even be subject to rendition if he visits Disneyland Paris.

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Re: Hoorah!

Or any other country that has an extradition treaty with the US.........

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Re: Hoorah!

"Hoorah!

Some sense at last."

Yes and no.

On one hand: Good, the poor bastard isn't going to be hurled into prison by the US justice system for an inappropriate period of time, for a crime that happened a decade ago, at enormous expense to tax-payers on both sides of the pond.

On the other hand, is being very depressed about the possibility of going to jail after breaking the law a good reason to avoid said jail sentence? Is "He might kill himself if he gets stressed out by the trial or jail" a reason to not prosecute people, and what kind of precedent does that set, as regards human rights*. Should it be possible to deploy such tactics as criminal defence? Does and should having Asperger's Syndrome in any way diminish criminal responsibility; especially as it's not something that blurs one's perception of what is and is not legal. Does painting Asperger's as a factor damage the image of the Syndrome and make it harder for people with it to be accepted, and is that not a negative thing?

*I might kill myself because of stress and depression because I don't own a Ferrari. Can I haz one plz?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or any other country

particularly Sweden ........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

I am in two minds about this too. However, I think the suicide threat is less relevant than the impossibility of having a fair trial in the US - *THAT* is the real humane consideration.

I'm not considering the entire US Justice system unfit for purpose, it's more about the vast amount of political pressure and press reporting of this case which makes it unlikely a conviction would be safe. To me, that in itself is a valid ground to stop deportation on humane grounds.

However, I fear we will have plenty of copycats for a while..

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Re: Hoorah!

Clearly you don't understand autism. This isn't just "Ooh I might be a bit unhappy". He has aspergers. His entire view of the world is skewed and different from everyone elses.

My son is autistic so I'm very aware of how autism affects those who suffer from it.

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Re: Hoorah!

Clearly you don't understand autism. This isn't just "Ooh I might be a bit unhappy". He has aspergers. His entire view of the world is skewed and different from everyone elses.

Clearly you don't understand humanity. EVERYONE'S view of the world is different from everyone else's. We're all somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Your experience with your son has exposed you to one autism spectrum condition, and I sincerely hope you have and continue to handle it well. But don't deceive yourself into thinking that in-depth exposure to an individual case grants you expertise on the entire range.

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Re: Hoorah!

Er... no, we're not all on the autism spectrum. That's a stupid thing to say.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

Logically, I don't think it is. Not having autism is, nevertheless, on the spectrum, even if it is only at one end of it.

Personally, I think that parents describing their spoiled brats bullying, destrictive, selfish behaviour to other parents as, "Oh, he's on the spectrum," and not being a proper parent, is not only hacking other people off but it is robbing true autism sufferers and their carers the understanding that they deserve from society.

Things are really mixed up these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

It is easy to get a fair trial in the US - don't be accused of anything "Anti-American" and have very deep pockets indeed.

I'm sorry, but the root cause of this case is the attempted cover-up by US officials who apparently thought that a really secure password for sensitive servers was "password". Under these conditions, a fair trial is about as likely as Salman Rushdie getting one in Iran, and for much the same reason (Rushdie was very critical of the Ayatollah Khomeini in his book.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

He doesn't actually need to leave this country to undergo rendition. Our USian 'friends' show little respect for borders. Everything they can see in any sovereign state is fair game. Just ask all those countries the colonials have 'assisted' in recent years. How do you think Guantanamo Bay became populated with all those other nationals apart from Afgans?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

I don't often have anything good to say about any HS, especially Ms May, but she has risen slightly in my estimation due to this decision.

Now can we just get the UK trial over with, give him his community service and take into account the last few years and let the bloke get on with his life?

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Re: Hoorah!

As far as I know, France doesn't have an extradition treaty with the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

Thank god a sane person. I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (before it was cool) and honestly I can't stand the amount I see things on TV "blah blah blah did such as such, his defense is he has aspergers"

Where I used to work, a small child stole some food, when my supervisor caught him and told the parent to keep a closer eye on him (which was nice of him, considering we're meant to report any and all theft, even kids) her response was "It's not his fault, he has aspergers"

If my job wouldn't have been at risk, I would have ripped her a new one then and there. So many people use it as an excuse for every little thing they do, when half the time it has no affect on those aspects whatsoever. Unfortunately I've moved to the opposite approach because of this, even in situations where Aspergers is the reason I cock something up, normally social things, poorly worded responses etc I absolutely refuse to use Aspergers as a reason for it.

Aspergers makes you a social retard, not a complete one.

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Re: Hoorah!

"Does and should having Asperger's Syndrome in any way diminish criminal responsibility; especially as it's not something that blurs one's perception of what is and is not legal."

Speaking as someone who has Asperger Syndrome, self diagnosed, I assume you are a have not and therefore are in a position to make for shit statements.

For myself I have a heightened awareness of what should and what should not be legal. I get slightly confused when your world model as apparently imposed by people such as yourself fails to join up at the edges.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

Clearly you don't understand autism. This isn't just "Ooh I might be a bit unhappy". He has aspergers. His entire view of the world is skewed and different from everyone elses.

I actually *have* Aspergers. Mild, but I have it, and I agree that it skews my world view - but not to a degree that stops me from knowing what is right or wrong. If anything, I have a tendency to be more rigid in following the rules because I cannot rely on the social triggers others depend on. This is *exactly* why I do not accept Aspergers *itself* as a viable excuse, because that would mean half of Silicon Valley suddenly would become exempt from following the law (well, OK, maybe they do. It would explain a great deal, but I digress).

Aspergers may have indeed contributed to McKinnon arrived at a point where specialists thought he would consider suicide a viable option, but I think having to fight an uphill battle for a solid 10 years may have something more to do with it.

Incidentally, you only know from the outside what it's like. That's not the same as having to live with it yourself.

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Cover up?

That's one thing that always puzzled me about this whole affair - how it has failed to be covered up.

If I were after the culprits for hacking into several of the biggest and highest profile defence and research organisations in my country, and that turned out to be one lone guy with a home PC and some mental issues, I would sweep that under the carpet faster than you can say 'Highly embarrassing security incident.'

None of this dragging extradition out for years mince.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

(a) - it is very unwise to self-diagnose any mental condition. Even depression, which can be confused with the effects of straightforward medical conditions.

(b) - having said that, if by "I have a heightened awareness of what should and what should not be legal" you mean that you tend to see things in black and white terms and believe that this makes your judgement superior - then yes, you are demonstrating a trait present in some people who have Aspergers. It is also, however, present in many other people who do not. And it can lead to everything from awkward social situations to quite destructive behaviour.

If you really think you have it you should seek a diagnosis from a qualified person.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoorah!

I was anon 14:47 so continuing on from that in response to Ribs post.

This is another point that coincides with what I was saying, because its become 'the' mental condition in the spotlight, most probably because so many of the possible symptoms are so general anyone could claim they have it (seriously, read through the traits of somebody with aspergers, if you just take one or two traits without context 99% of the population have it). This is the other problem, so many people don'[t bother with a professional diagnosis and just diagnose themselves and suddenly they have an opinion on the matter.

Here's an opinion unless you have seen a qualified specialist to be diagnosed you don't have it. The same way sticking a ferrari sticker on a kit car doesn't make it a ferrari and saying you make the best curry in the world doesn't mean your curry is the best.

If anything people who automatically decide they have aspergers are probably the people I'd say are least likely to have it.

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Re: Hoorah!

"Clearly you don't understand autism. This isn't just "Ooh I might be a bit unhappy". He has aspergers. His entire view of the world is skewed and different from everyone elses."

Actually, I do. I have several friends with Aspergers. It doesn't prevent them from knowing right from wrong, or functioning in society. They're sometimes awkward, sometimes unwittingly obnoxious, often lose their keys, and sometimes talk about Transformers far too much, but they understand the difference between right and wrong and the technicalities of the law. Some are particularly handy at IT partly because of their understanding and obsession with technicalities. Aspergers is a far cry from full-blown Autism, and in every case that I'm familiar with, it doesn't skew their world view to the point that they should stand outside the legal system.

I am genuinely pleased that Gary isn't going to be hauled through US courts, but the law cannot and should never start making exceptions for those who are in some way a little different from the norm, or even suffering from depression, and yet live normally and partly or fully independently within our society.

If someone is so far outside the norm that they cannot understand the law, operate within it, or be held accountable for their actions, then they deserve to be catered to, looked after, and cared for so that they are not put in the position where they might break those laws and be called to account.

*I* would be depressed if I had been dragged through courts for years or was facing 60 years in prison. I imagine a vast number of us would slip into clinical depression at the possibility. But that alone isn't really a defence clause in the eyes of the justice system. The more mentally resilient amongst us should not face relatively heavier punishment than those who are prone to depression.

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Re: Hoorah!

"For myself I have a heightened awareness of what should and what should not be legal. I get slightly confused when your world model as apparently imposed by people such as yourself fails to join up at the edges."

You appear to have misunderstood my point. I hindsight I didn't communicate it particularly well.

To clear it up: In my experience with them, people who have Aspergers know full well what is and what is not legal, and understand the legal repercussions of their actions. They also have a functioning moral compass. It does not impede on their ability to operate as a citizen within the law.

Gary knew that breaking into computer systems owned by the US Government was illegal. He might not have understood *why*, but that's not a valid legal defence, just as I don't really understand why punching Rupert Murdoch in the face should be illegal, but wouldn't rely on that to get me off an assault charge. Ergo, Aspergers Syndrome is not a suitable legal defence.

As to not understanding *why* the world doesn't join up at the edges particularly neatly, I don't believe that is in any way unique to those with Aspergers.

I'm also not too sure why the world model was imposed by people such as myself, in your eyes. It wasn't. You appear to have put up a wall and divided humanity into 'have'(Aspergers) and 'have-nots'. Just because I don't have the same specific spectral condition than you, it doesn't mean that I fall into the same category as everyone else lacking it.

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Re: Hoorah!

"This is *exactly* why I do not accept Aspergers *itself* as a viable excuse, because that would mean half of Silicon Valley suddenly would become exempt from following the law"

/applause.

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Re: Hoorah!

Oh, so you'd describe yourself as being 'on the paedophile spectrum' would you? Autistic people have to deal with issues that do not apply to most others, so it's hardly fair to dismiss the condition like that. Mckinnon may well have considered the moral implications of looking into these systems and found no good reason why he shouldn't. Many would agree that his behaviour was not 'criminal', but motivated by childlike curiosity. Perhaps he thought that if he really was gaining access to top secret material, it woud be well protected, which it wasn't. Elements of the US have decided to treat him like a terrorist, and that is clearly innapropriate. He deserves protection. As for bemoaning parents of autistic children, that's quite a generalisation, to say the least.

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Re: Hoorah!

Actually France and the US signed an extradition treaty (in Paris) on 23/04/1996. Ask Ira Einhorn.

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Re: Cover under

You forget the seriously brain damaged regime under which the cack all got started. A bunch of crooks and liars got together to have a mental retard son of an ex president made commander in chief of everything unholy because a bunch of retards would vote for it.

And they did.

Everybody sensible refrained from voting.

By the second round it was too late.

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Re: Hoorah!

"Personally, I think that parents describing their spoiled brats bullying, destrictive, selfish behaviour to other parents as, "Oh, he's on the spectrum," and not being a proper parent,"

Once upon a time, saying "Oh, he's on the spectrum" meant something completely different.

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Re: Cover up?

"None of this dragging extradition out for years mince."

I guess they expected to tell the Brits to airmail him over, which they would do immediately and without question, upon which time they would tear him a new one as a warning for any other wannabe hackers. The cover-up wouldn't be who got their asses handed to them, the cover-up would be that it was a guy with a medical condition that may or may not have been a factor, plus a regular home PC. That's the part that would have been glossed over.

But... didn't quite work out that way.

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Re: Hoorah!

"Logically, I don't think it is. Not having autism is, nevertheless, on the spectrum, even if it is only at one end of it."

What a load of crap! That is like saying that micro or radio waves are part of the visible spectrum - utter bollocks!

Taking the first line from the Wikipedia entry for "Autism Spectrum" (with the usual pinch of salt...)

"The autism spectrum or autistic spectrum describes a range of conditions classified as pervasive developmental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)."

So if you do not demostrate "pervasive developmental disorders" you are not on the spectrum.

As for the McKinnon case, sounds like the UK govenrment is finally starting to grow a pair regarding the apparent asymmetry of the US-UK extradition process.

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Poor guy

I applaud this decision, but still can't help thinking having this hang over him for a decade must have taken it's toll on him regardless. Hope he can get on with his life now.

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Why give Aspergers a free pass?

Devil's advocate here... Why should those with Aspergers be given a free pass for their actions and other criminals not?

At some level every thief has a distorted sense of entitlement that makes them feel they are entitled too take someone else's stuff.

And some people feel they are doing good for society by beating up gays and blacks.

According to http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/prisons/, 70% of the prison population in UK has 2 or more mental health disorders.

Where the hell do you draw the line?

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Re: Hoorah!

" I think the suicide threat is less relevant than the impossibility of having a fair trial in the US "

Yes, but Mrs May could not really say that in public, now could she?

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Happy

Re: Hoorah!

"Personally, I think that parents describing their spoiled brats bullying, destrictive, selfish behaviour to other parents as, "Oh, he's on the spectrum," and not being a proper parent,"

heyrick: "Once upon a time, saying "Oh, he's on the spectrum" meant something completely different."

Not necessarily completely different :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why give Aspergers a free pass?

@Charles "Devil's advocate here... Why should those with Aspergers be given a free pass for their actions and other criminals not?"

I don't think he's being given a free pass. He'll be tried in the UK, if I read things correctly. I also think that the aspergers is a bit of a red herring here ...

For me, however, a major contributor to my opinion in this is what was coming out of the US; their talk suggested that they wanted a sheep to hang not only for the fact that the sheep walked through the gate in to a field and took a nibble at some grass and gave a bit of a shock to some of the other sleeping animals that were in there, but they also wanted said sheep to hang for the fact that they left the gate open and caused them to get caught with their pants around their ankles on the job.

I believe that there was no chance that he would have had a fair trial in the US on these grounds and, if I was in his shoes, aspergers or not, I'd be shit scared of being hung for someone elses cock ups; sleepless nights, suicidal thoughts and all the rest of it.

... but to be honest, going to the home secretary and ask for extradition to be halted on the grounds that the US were blowing things out of proportion, might not have resulted in a favourable outcome.

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Mushroom

Re: Hoorah!

Rendition treaty?

What ever happened to the USA continuing with their practice of the Keitel Decree:

Night and Fog Decree, German Nacht-und-Nebel-Erlass, secret order issued by US Corporate government person on December 7, 1941, under which “persons endangering American security” in the whole world occupied territories of the whole world were to be arrested and either shot or spirited away under cover of “night and fog” (that is, clandestinely) to concentration camps. Also known as the Keitel Order, the decree was signed by Secretary of Defence, chief of staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wehrmacht), and was issued in response to the increased activity of the Resistance in the whole world. The American minister of justice established special courts to deal with these cases. Some 7,000 persons are known to have been sent to concentration camps as a result of this decree.

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Re: Hoorah!

Fair trial? He has already admitted to doing it. I think a trial anywhere would be a forgone conclusion. I can see stopping the extradtition, but surely it is a crime to engage in these activities, whether against foreign or domestic computer systems. Why just let him go? Doesn't that tell everyone, particularly the US, that London is the chief safe haven for computer espionage?

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Goody

A Home Secretary speaks some sense. They must have forgotten to give her the medication this morning.

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HMB

Re: Goody

Let me ask you this question; do you think she'd have made this much sense if so many eyes weren't on her decision?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Goody

dried frog pills?

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Right decision for the wrong reason

Finally the right decision is made, however for the wrong reason.

It ought to have been blocked long ago as the crime was committed from in the UK and so should have been tried in the UK.

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Megaphone

Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

Spot on.

The cost of having lopsided bully boy extradition laws is not worth it. Even if it means we lose some cooperation or whatever. Lets hope this is the start of the UK finally telling the US that hey - you do not control the world outside of your borders. They will cotton on eventually.

Oh and change your default administrator passwords.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

> Finally the right decision is made, however for the wrong reason.

Totally agree. Unfortunately these days you have to win on technicalities or other means rather than pure common sense.

Richard O'Dwyer should be put in front of this new forum bar as his website was not breaking any laws in the UK.

Overall its nice to see a UK politician say NO to the US, even if it was some agreement based on hook hand hamza.

This also sets a nice precedence for if I ever get caught ;-)

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Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

Perhaps more the correct pretext found for handing out the correct decision.

UK.gov needs to be seen to have a justifiable reason to the yank administration for an outbreak of comon sense , however thinly veiled.

Now perhaps we can continue secession from our colonial government-level overlords. Or at least have cock removed from arse.

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Rob
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Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

Lose some cooperation, since when did our government get any cooperation from the US government that didn't have self-serving motives for them.

(please be aware that I always consider a government to be separate from the citizens of that country and generally don't tarnish them with the same brush).

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Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

The "special relationship" seems more about us going off to help the US fight wars than anything genuinely useful. We will always have a 'special relationship' with the US regardless of politicians, shared history and language will always encourage business, we don't need to kow tow to these jarheads.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

I don't know... If I left my door in such a way someone could poke a stick through the letter box and unlatch it, and then I found someone had wandered in off the street and ruffled through my bookshelves, I would be pissed off. But after reflection I would consider myself lucky that a thief hadn't come in, smashed the place up, stolen my valuables and taken a dump on the carpet.

After I had calmed down, I would then consider upgrading my locks and then go to the pub.

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Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

Agreed for the most part.

Bu tth eright decision would gave been to refuse extradition when it was asked for, not many years later.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

which is of course what the US gov did, this is the $800,000 damage that he is said to have done.

Well it cost 800K to fix our systems (change passwords/certs etc) and to do a review that we should have done ages ago into our security practices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

The last thing won't happen - Tony is too deeply wedged.

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Re: Right decision for the wrong reason

Curious.

So if I press a button in the UK that sends a missile to a target in - say - Iran, that kills a hundred..Iranians...I am committing no crime on Iranian soil?

What a field day for remote assassination this raises the prospect of...

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