back to article US extradition could push McKinnon 'towards suicide'

Gary McKinnon is "too fragile" to extradite to the US to face trial over his admitted computer hacking offences, his lawyers argue. Barristers representing McKinnon presented expert testimony that the stress of a US extradition and trial could push the 43 year-old, who suffers from Aspberger's Syndrome, towards psychosis or …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    He'd probably be free from a minimum security prision in the UK by now if his legal team weren't so damaged.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Good to see

    That Aspergers is spreading out in to new and exciting fields of shielding people from blame.

  3. Cameron Colley

    I'm not surprised.

    Facing loss of career, separation from friends and family, beatings and rape for the "crime" of looking at a few files on a wide-open computer system would be enough to push anyone to suicide.

    "Freedom and Justice for all", yeah right.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sign the petition

    You can sign a 10 downing street petition to have his and similar extraditions blocked here:-

    The Petition closes on 15th June.

  5. Matthew Ellen

    In case anyone wondered

    NHTCU = National Hi-Tech Crime Unit

  6. Mike Richards

    According to today's Indy...

    McKinnon is supported in his fight by...

    David Blunkett

    You know, the same tw*t who was the Home Secretary that signed the lop-sided extradition treaty in the first place.

  7. Rob Crawford

    @AC 10th June 2009 12:27 GMT


    WTF are you talking about? Has my cat started posting on the register?

    It's not his legal team insisting on a US trial.

  8. Doug Glass

    If You're Going to Be Dumb...

    .... you'd better be tough.

  9. WhatWasThat?

    "Crime" in the US

    That changing a URL is considered hacking is the travesty that has been pushed under the rug here.


    There have been architectures in place to ensure correct website security, and they have only improved since then.

    This guy noticed something odd, checked it out, and then notified the proper authorities of what he found. And the self-righteous jerks shoved his hand back down his throat so far he just has to wiggle his fingers to scratch his knee.

    The story should not be the long-drawn out case of extradition, but that he should not be considered not guilty of a crime at all.

    Do you want to be arrested and jailed because you mistyped a URL for your online banking? How about checking up on your Representative or Senator or (for the Brits) MP? Putting in a wrong word in the URL and BANG - you are just as guilty.

    Would you like your extradition 4th or 5th class?

    Mine's the one with the express ticket in the pocket; because I already live in the States, I get to be first in line.

  10. John F***ing Stepp

    Things have changed.

    'Cause years ago you people would not have released a natural born citizen on less than genocide.

    Damn, our DOJ must have some ball busting blackmail on your people; I mean, he's a hacker, which means intangible damage at best.

    Which would be a Tort; except for the fact that we made people believe that cyber space is real and has some significance.

    These are the dreams of the Ghost in the machine become nightmares.

    Sad, just sad.

  11. Stevie Silver badge


    Ah yes, the Asperger's Syndrome defense.

    Expect to see it in a paedophile trial near you soon!

  12. Sean Hunter

    Caution, this post may contain traces of actual facts

    Misinformation about the nature of our extradition treaty with the US was started by the NatWest 3 and is being kept up by his legal team, and this idea of the "lop-sided" extradition treaty really needs to be addressed with some actual facts. If you actually read the treaty you will find that the standard required to extradite someone from the US is "probable cause"- the same standard of evidence required for a copper to stop you in the US when you are driving funny. It's not a high standard. The standard required to extradite someone from the UK is "information or evidence sufficient to lead to the granting of a UK arrest warrant". So the standard is really about the same but if anything septics actually need to provide more evidence than we do. For the hard of thinking if anything it's lop-sided in our favour.

    Secondly people frequently post that the treaty has not been ratified. That's just false. The treaty was incorporated into UK law in the Extradition act and was ratified by the US senate in 2007.

    Finally, there is the question of his actual extradition. Here the treaty debate is just a side show. He has admitted guilt, so there is a prima facie case, which would have lead to his extradition before we signed this treaty. Additionally, there is every reason (in spite of hyperbolic claims by his legal team) to think that he will be treated fairly and (if found guilty) receive a light sentence, not go to what is colloquially known as federal "pound-me-in-the-ass" prison. If genuine, his psychological condition will be considered in mitigation of sentence. Remember that it was his decision (despite admitting guilt) not to accept the plea bargain offered by the US prosecution. That will count against him.

    It suits people's prejudices to make out that other countries have legal systems and prisons which are unspeakably backward and barbaric, but really that's just a load of nonsense designed to whip up public outrage and deflect from the facts of the case.

  13. George 19

    I agree with Doug Glass

    All systems he asked were secured, he knew what he was doing, affected systems and now wants to get off with a variety of excuses:

    1) First and rather poorly...just looking for UFOs

    2) Second mild learning difficulties such as aspergers

    3) Thirdly suicide threat.

    If you knowingly did the crime then my friend, you do the time.

    And I love everyone sticking up for him because it was US DoD stuff, if he had come in and messed up your servers you too would be persuing legal avenues.

  14. Camilla Smythe

    @ #70 Done

    "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to lead his Government in providing protection against extradition for people with autism and Asperger syndrome in the criminal justice system, particularly in the case of Gary McKinnon.

    Submitted by Lisa James of The National Autistic Society"


    Even used my real name.

    Asperger[s] Syndrome it is then.

    At face value it, the petition, does seem poorly worded. Reads right to me after a bit of thought. Last time I checked on mine there was only one place/hospital in the UK that dealt specifically with 'proper' diagnosis of Aspergers.

    I sincerely hope that they bring them into court as expert witnesses and the Judge takes some time to learn about the subject from them.... in a calm and rational way which will involve taking more time to consider this and, hopefully, subsequent cases.

    I suppose things would be different if Ms Smith, or some of her constituents, had an Autistic Child or knew someone who experienced what it is like to be part of a spread spectrum disorder.

    Oh gosh.... I appear to be losing it now.

    Perhaps she is standing down to spend more time with her husband, is he really that bloke that looks like a slob?, experiencing the joys of **** sex because she now has to service his nascent desires personally rather than signing off a couple of skin flicks off cable vision on expenses.


    That was quite restrained after all

  15. Camilla Smythe

    RE: Just traces of actual facts......

    "Remember that it was his decision (despite admitting guilt) not to accept the plea bargain offered by the US prosecution. That will count against him."


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"Crime" in the US

    Changing a URL? What are you on about?

    By his own admission McKinnon was responsible for much more than mere URL manipulation; e.g. the use of commercial remote administration tools, modification of US computers (even if all he did was drop a txt file advising the yanks to secure their systems) and so on...

    Possibly you have McKinnon confused with the supposed "tsunami fund" hacker, who did indeed only manipulate a URL and did subsequently receive unfair negative sanctions from the justice system.

    Anyway, best of luck to Gary McKinnon with his appeal, this has dragged on far too long. If I were Home Secretary, he would have been dealt with in the UK courts and therefore would likely received a relatively mild sentence e.g. suspended sentence/community service. Any more than this is patently unjust, given the time elapsed, the nature of the offences, his medical condition, etc etc.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Great PR job

    Anyone who watched Charlie Brooker will recognise all the fuss around this case is exactly the same as the NatWest 3 - a bunch of thieving bastards who defrauded their way, quite rightly, into an American court and were convicted on overwhelming evidence. What they had on their side was great PR and anti-Yank sentiment. We were told they could spend 50 years in a maximum security b*tt-F*ck prison. They got 38 months and were transferred to a British gaol for most of it. For defrauding millions.

    Get real. This tit hacked into government computers. If he was a Muslim and had done it to British defence computers you would be covering the technical details and wouldn't give a toss what happened to him.

  18. nsld

    @ Sean Hunter

    "The standard required to extradite someone from the UK is "information or evidence sufficient to lead to the granting of a UK arrest warrant"

    Given that a power of arrest exists based purely on reasonable suspicion that a person may or may be about to commit a crime its an extremely thin standard of proof to obtain a warrant, even thinner if the Terrorism act 2000 comes into play.

    The key issue is that prior to the introduction of the treaty the US didnt want to extradite him because they would have had to produce the equivalent of the MG6 to show what he had done and what he had accessed.

    The new treaty has a much lower burden of evidence and can be based purely on "information", in this case probably because he said he did it!

    As to the merits of the case itself that is a different matter, the fundamental difference is that this is not an even bilateral treaty in that we as a country cant extradite US citiziens with the same ease.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @George 19

    Describing Asperger's as a "mild learning difficulty" is like describing a blown tire as a "minor gas mileage problem".

  20. vivaelamor

    Re: I agree with Doug Glass

    You believe Aspergers syndrome is a mild learning difficulty? The possible effects vary from bugger all to very serious but to dismiss it as a mild learning difficulty is nothing short of arrogant.

    As someone who considered getting tested and as such did a lot of research on the subject I can assure you it is no mild learning difficulty, in fact in itself it is not necessarily a learning difficulty. Please read up on the subject, Gary McKinnon may or may not deserve your scorn but Aspergers is a serious condition that can ruin peoples lives just because they think differently (though not necessarily worse).

    My own experience put me through severe anxiety and depression, I was lucky that it is not in my nature to contemplate suicide. Imagine being one of the smartest people in the school yet unable to learn because the teachers think everyone should be taught the same. Imagine thinking the teachers hated you because of their anger at your inability to do what they said. Imagine years of bullying for every reason under the sun. Imagine being home taught just to pass your GCSEs. Imagine being unable to leave your room at college because you are unable to cope interacting with those you live with. Imagine looking back and not recalling one positive moment out of every year at school. Those are a but a small number of ways in which my childhood suffered because of how my mind works.

    Now imagine putting all that behind you and continuing with life as if your differences are a gift. A lot of people who get diagnosed with Aspergers aren't anywhere near as lucky as I have been, I may still not be able to say or do a hundredth of what I think but at least now I can cope with and enjoy life as an independent person.

    So while I'd not expect you to be sympathetic to someone who thinks differently to you and suffers from problems as a result, don't be surprised when people think you are an arrogant moron for dismissing problems you apparently haven't even bothered to research.

  21. Charles 9 Silver badge

    @Sean Hunter`

    But here's the question. Does the suspect's actions (admitted or not) constitute a crime? After all, the supposed criminal never set foot on American soil (the USUAL grounds for an extradition happens to be a crime committed by a criminal on American soil who then flees it). And where is the proof his acts caused real monetary or security damage?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @Sean Hunter

    Careful. Posting facts like that will hurt folks feelings. this is more a touchy-feely thing than having to do with facts..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Who gives a shit what he did?

    It was yank computers he was tinkering with. Right or wrong, and simply because I don't like the American interpretation of 'justice', I wish our Government would just tell them to piss off. Their President can't even answer off-the-cuff questions without a teleprompter and the world is growing tired of their global buffoonery. We can agree to extradition when they can go a few decades without electing leaders who get themselves fired, who can field Generals who won't try to start WW3 because the Russians beat them to a fucking airport while fighting on the same side and who won't send their kids to die based on complete bullshit.

    Until then fuck 'em.

  24. Rob Crawford

    @Sean Hunter

    As stated in another thread, simply not agreeing to be extradited lands you with additional charges, which I cant remember the term (essentially the equivalent of escaping from custody).

    The extradition treaty signed with the US essentially says that NO proof needs to be furnished, accusation is grounds enough.

    What about the online poker guy who was arrested for allowing US registered credit cards to be used, when no part of the business is based within the US. Making a UK citizen responsible for the US gamblers choices is totally ridiculous.

    If you check on how so called hackers are treated in the US you will see that they are often held in high security prisons.

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