back to article Home sec puts McKinnon extradition on hold

The Home Office has agreed to a delay in extradition proceedings for Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon while Home Secretary Alan Johnson and government lawyers reconsider evidence in the case. Washington has been demanding McKinnon go on trial in the US for breaking into Pentagon computer systems back in 2002. He has never denied …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Sounds like the coward can't accept responsibility for his actions.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget the medical side

    You shouldn't extradite him, because his crime is not serious enough to come under this extradition process and similar crimes have been dealt with at UK magistrates level.

    If I break a $10 door, I have done $10 worth of damage to it. If you replace it with a $10000 door, I have not done $10000 worth of damage. The costs the Pentagon incurred was the costs it needed to spend to secure it's Internet facing network.

    As a matter of your duty to the UK people under the extradition treaty, it's their f**ing job to weed out these junk requests.

    And Blunkett should never have negotiated a treaty where politicians extradite UK citizens without the courts seeing the evidence. Because then we get in these awkward political situations, where on the one hand you don't wan to slight the US, but on the other, the damages claim for ZERO damage, is clearly inflated to match this extradition treaty.

  3. Chris Haynes

    Successive Home Secretaries...

    "Successive Home Secretaries have refused to halt the case, saying they have no power to intervene."

    Crap. They have the power to intervene. They have the power to PROTECT their own citizens from outside pressures. That's what they're there to do. The treaty is extremely one-sided and favours the US. Yes, McKinnon broke into their systems, but how could he have caused so much damage by looking at files?

    If anything, he should be commended for pointing out that a guy with Asperger's could hack into the US military's computer systems with very little effort! Seems like $800,000 (or whatever the cost of the 'damage' he caused was) is pretty cheap for that kind of penetration testing.

  4. Tim Roberts 1
    Paris Hilton

    as an aussie I say...

    F the yanks. If he needs to have jail time - not proven - let him do it at home. Apart from anything else, if the security was so slack that a "UFO searcher" hacker could get in then then they deserve to be hacked. What were they using?....Windows? - again they deserve to be hacked. Effin morons who think that the world revolves around what is good for them.

    Paris cos I've heard that she like being hacked.

  5. Tony Green

    More bullshit from government

    Of course Home Secretaries can intervene in this case. This appalling treaty was sneaked in by David Blunkett who bypassed Parliament by issuing an order in the Privy Council. So there's nothing to stop the current Home Secretary from using the same instrument to suspend the treaty.

    Which they should do at least until the Yanks implement their side of what was supposed to be a two-way treaty. Preferably permanently, as there's absolutely no way anybody should be handed over to the US's banana-republic-style "justice" system without a hell of a lot of evidence against them.

  6. gribbler
    Thumb Up

    Are you sure?

    I was so shocked when I read this that I had to check a few other news sources to make sure it was true. Sincere apologies to El Reg for not trusting you straight away, it's just that this story seems to be about a politician doing something that huge numbers of people want and looking after a citizens interests and standing up against American interests. I hope the right honourable home secretary has found a way to make money out of this, otherwise I might have to reassess my opinion of politicians.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let justice prevail

    Let McKinnon go to the U.S. and be punished for his crimes like any other criminal.

  8. ZootCadillac

    What is up with this?

    The guy is guilty by his own admission. Why are we wasting taxpayers money having people deal with this. Agree the extradition and let him have his day in court. If he's not guilty then good on him, if he is then let him fight a lengthy appeal case through the US courts as it is US law he has violated.

    Why there is such public support for the UK to try and keep this criminal here I'll never understand.

    The laws are there for a reason and cybercrime may not seem as important to some as other, more physical crimes but the law has been broken and he needs to go and deal with that.

  9. David Simpson 1

    Lets cut him off.

    While I don't agree with a one sided extradition agreement with America, why is this guy not in prison already ?

    If I forgot to lock my front door would any random UFO nut be allowed to give my house a going over looking for evidence of UFOs NO!

    Gary knew he was breaking the law and admits he did so why is he still wasting our tax money on his legal aid.

    Asperger's syndrome is never diagnosed in adults because there is no point, it cannot be treated and it is effectively just a collection of social problems that most adults should be able to cope with. People are acting like he has a mental illness, which he doesn't I'm just sick of reading about it, stop the export to America and just throw him in jail here already.

    None of us would feel sorry for him if he'd hacked into our banking system instead.

  10. cor

    Surely Gitmo is being closed..

    The vendetta against McK has always been a bit of a drama, but surely with Obama cleaning up the shop he doesn't risk being sent down to Gitmo?

    Plus - normal civilised countries have duel extradition treaties which imply that a convicted 'felon' can be repatriated for sentencing..

    I am curious to know if any steps have been taken to uncover the identity of the other 5 thousand "hackers" (barf) who also made use of the blue-tak and sellotape security fence around the Pentangle's datacentre... ;)

  11. Steve Evans


    Does the Home Office have the power to intervene or not?

    Cos either they've been lying in the past, or they are lying now!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US is known for torture

    so he could appeal on those grounds.

    This is ridiculous, really he should get a slap on the wrist, and be made to bear some of the costs of a security clear up.

    But, the amount they have quoted is a bit off, it is obviously been designed to hit a certain level. And not all the costs should be attributed to him, the systems sound like they were left in an insecure state anyhow, so they cannot use that as a way to attribute securing costs to him, it is just the cost of detecting what he did and rectifying that he has any plausible liability for.

    As he has admitted to this, the clean up costs should be substantially lessened, if they could have concentrated on the systems he accessed that would drop the cost.

    The real question that needs to be answered is what the hell were the US military doing putting internet facing computer systems carrying sensitive data in a trivially secured manner. From what has been said, he didn't actually use anything that sophisticated, it was just compromising passwords that were easy to guess, and that is amateur hour on even just a commercial setup let alone a government, or military setup.

    The eyes of the world are going to be on this, and this is just daft and bad practice for a military to have to make all the evidence available. They will probably go for some form of secret trial, communist style, but it is going to be called rigged by everyone else, and is just bad PR for the yanks no matter what happens. They need to work out something that saves face, keeps their security cockups under wraps, and doesn't make them look like grade A arseholes to the rest of the world.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Americans eh?

    What a bunch of deity-fearing cow-herders!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or put another way

    The McKinnon affair is very embarrasing for the governement and a potential vote loser but they can't be seen by the Americans to be actively preventing his extradition. They sat back and hoped that any one of a number of expected appeals would sort the issue out for them. Unfortunately this hasn't worked and they've been pushed into a corner where they have to make the final decision, upset the British public or the US administration. It's still too close to call.

  15. dunncha

    Another Vote Winning Move

    Another Vote winning move from the party that brought you.....

    War in IRAQ

    War in Afghanistan


    Tax Avoidance

    The ID Card

    Oopps I've lost my Database.

    Any I may have missed out.

    Funny how things start to happen now when they are scrabbling around looking for somebody that likes them. All the opportunities they have had in the past to bury this and failed because they didn't care

    End see-saw politics - Vote for the Lib Dems

  16. Fred 1

    Dangerous ground

    What happened last time the USA said "Hand over that criminal", and the country in question said "Show us some evidence first".

    I don't think we should dare to piss them off.

    Look at the state of Afghanistan now.

  17. Iggle Piggle

    On the one hand... and then...

    I believe that society does need protecting from people with mental illnesses who seem unable to separate right from wrong. I am sure that both sides have exaggerated the extent/lack of damage caused by this guy but hacking into Pentagon computer system can only be considered right by people who are deluded.

    Given his mental state it seems that the British should never have considered extradition and certainly not to a country that routinely puts its citizens to death. I understand that certain states in the US have called for McKinnon to face the death penalty and it is at that moment that his extradition should have been stopped.

  18. King John

    vote winner?

    Not likely, still at least this home sec actually did something to help a British citizen.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no power to intervene?

    So, the most senior people in the country cannot intervene, then no-one can?

    By that rationale then no agreement with any other country can be questioned, ever.

    What a bunch of wet, useless, over paid, complacent idiots we are run by, and their UK counterparts who claim to rule the country have shown themselves to have no use atall.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes you wonder why they are so keen to throw him to the lions

    Anyone might think it was a smokescreen to cover something else.

  21. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: And ...

    May I just say how thrilled I am to be moderating this thread with all its fresh new perspectives on this case.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Looks like the Home Secretary has discovered a power to intervene.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. ShaggyDoggy

    I for one

    welcome our new extraditing overlords and their sarcasm wielding hack puppets

    BTW I thought the UK refused to extradite to torture-using countries ... oh wait a planeload got turned back at the weekend from ... hmmm let me think where .....

  25. VulcanV5

    Send him to the US!

    Of course the extradition should go ahead.

    No amount of bleedin' heart rubbish about medical conditions alters the fact that the situation is criminal.

    And after Johnson has been extradited, that pratt Blunkett should be shipped over there, too.

    Let's hear it for America!

  26. Dom 1
    Paris Hilton

    I doubt

    that the spineless labour government will ever have the guts to stand up to the Americans. The one-sided extradition agreement should be torn up, and a fair and equal one be negotiated. This case is not just about McKinnon, it's also about an unequal treaty and it's inadequacies. Americans are quite happy to send in the Seals to save one of it's citizens from getting a parking ticket, why is our government (sic) so ready to give it's citizens up?

    Yes, McKinnon broke the law, but the reaction of the Americans has been disproportionate, misleading and down right dishonest.

    And to David, who wrote "If I forgot to lock my front door would any random UFO nut be allowed to give my house a going over looking for evidence of UFOs NO!", just remember that McKinnon used a program that scans systems for administrator accounts with no passwords! Every machine that Mckinnon broke into had no password at all protecting it. To use your analogy, that's like you not having a front door at all - just a open hole. If that was the case in your house, that you had no front door at all, would you be suprised if you where burgled?

    And what of the other 5000 hackers that managed to amble through the open door? You don't hear the American politicians calling for the ones from China, Nth Korea, Iran etc. to be executed? Yet, because this is Britain, and a bunch of greedy, house-flipping, self-centred ***** are in power, its citizens are a "soft" target.

    If anything, I think McKinnon has done a service to the Americans, by highlighting just how poor their security was. Come on - no passwords at all? That's just a joke.

    Paris? Because even she knows what a password is used for....

  27. Anonymous Coward


    You oddities who believe that because some foreign country claims a UK or any other non-USA citizen living in his/her own country has broken some US law that person should be sent there. Tell me what say we had in the making of such laws. Or do you believe that we are subordinate to USA and therefore to its laws? Wonder if we can try all those USA types carrying guns, or who contributed to the IRA, in London. So now, we have to know the laws of every country in the world in case we break them at home even if not against our own laws. Wonder why so many other countries do not accept that unless the treaty is bidirectional.

    If a demonstrator in London "insults" the USA flag, off to the USA?

    For those who follow that line of thought, I suggest that you move there. If you want to stay here, take a lesson from the French and even the Americans: loyalty to your own land.and fellow citizens, mentally ill or not.

    And for you medical experts: who are you to judge whether somebody is mentally ill or not? Or are you Psychiatrists who masquerade as IT experts?

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Re Why there is such public support for the UK to try and keep this criminal here I'll never understand.

    Fair play, equality of extradition law?

  30. Mike 102
    IT Angle

    By special relationship do they mean like between a husband and battered wife??

    and where's the IT angle... this is nothing to do with Hacking and all to do with knobchuck politicians........ being... well... knobchunks...

  31. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Starting to wonder though

    Let's face it - a large proportion of internet-facing systems do not have wonderful security and it is not really that unusual to see some level of unauthorised intrusion. Script kiddies and SQL-twiddlers and other junior hackers are ten a penny really and it's not headline news. Typical responses to such intrusions (if they are even detected) amount to patching the hole and hoping nobody noticed.

    The amount of fuss over this guy is starting to make me wonder what he actually did find on his UFO-spotting sessions. Why are the Americans so desperate to get hold of this particular bloke when he's just another n00b with a portscanner?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 09:35 GMT

    Who says the govnmint runs the country - didn´t Brown sign away the county´s rights to self-government when he sneakily endorsed the Lisbon treaty without the promised referendum.

    What I cannot understand is how they now justify the continuing existence and expense of a parliament and civil service.

    Definitely time for an escape.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    People think it's actully right that this is happening?

    Come on I know he should be punished for what he did. But I think the US is taking things a bit overboard, Sure he 'hacked' into their systems. But the fact that he isn't especially good at hacking as it was reported all he did was use scripts to brute force usernames and passwords is plain stupidity.

    The people who should also be charged with a crime is the people who thought that their security was any good and didn't need updating. They need people like him to test their security. They should be thankful that is was him that exposed a hole in their security and and not someone else.

    Why not just give him 6 months inside and a fine and let him reflect on why hacking is not a good idea. Flying him to US and putting him away for an indefinite amount time I can see really fits the crime... People do far worse stuff and don't get such harsh punishment.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @People think it's actully right that this is happening?

    "Why not just give him 6 months inside and a fine and let him reflect on why hacking is not a good idea. Flying him to US and putting him away for an indefinite amount time I can see really fits the crime... People do far worse stuff and don't get such harsh punishment."

    If he'd gone at the start this is likely what would have happened, and it would likely of been minimum security. However the Americans have a view that the more of a pain in the arse you are the longer you're likely to face inside. Seen as it's been strung out for several years and several hundred thousand pounds the Americans are likely to put him somewhere dark, hot, and unpleasant.

  35. fajensen Silver badge



    "Do you want a waterboarding with that", sir?


    The vendetta against McK has always been a bit of a drama, but surely with Obama cleaning up the shop he doesn't risk being sent down to Gitmo?


    What, exactly, has Obama DONE apart from Embrace & Embellish on Bush & Cheney's corrupt and evil policies? Nothing at all!!

  36. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Mens Rea

    One thing everyone is forgetting is Mens Rea.

    And just because he admits 'he did it', doesn't mean, in terms of Law, that he did 'do it' or that 'it' was actually a crime.

    Unfortunately the treaty ( laughingly called bi-lateral ), like the European Arrest Warrant, has largely turned former due process into a simple case of 'you demand, we'll hand over, no questions asked'.

    Be very afraid.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those who have missed the plot

    Hundreds of thousand in damages, multiple B&Es, an areswipe sympathy act, etc. are all good reasons for a stiff punishment. Phuck around and go to prison. Punishment is meant to be a strong and lasting deterrent to McKinnon and any other arsewipe who should act so foolishly.

  38. Wortel

    Oh come on.

    How long has it been now, 7 years? pointless bickering over a non-issue by government airheads whom themselves are barely able to remember their own mobile phone PIN. Let McKinnon go already, 7 years of being the centre of a silly game of semantics tug of war with the promise of more hurt is more than long enough torture for any human being.

  39. Wortel

    @Venomous A.Cowards

    And you know who you are.

    Stuff your mindless drivel. Let's see you being jerked around by the noose around your neck for 7 years. Do you believe you will be the same person once they finally decide to drop the hatch beneath your feet, or cut the rope instead and set you free?

    Punishment is to fit the crime. "Punishment" however, if you have any brain left to think about it, is a rather broad subject involving all physical, mental, and historical facets of human existence. How much of it do you seek to apply to McKinnon after 7 years? Haven't thought about that very much have you. Forgot about Alan Turing already have we?

    Can we have an icon for 'Lack of Evolutionary Progress' please? I find the lack of brains of today's living generations disturbing.

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