back to article McKinnon: The longest ever game of pass the parcel

Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon has won breathing space in his long-running fight against extradition, with news on Wednesday that judges have granted a further judicial review. This time it is to consider whether the Home Secretary was right to disregard medical evidence that he might harm himself or even commit suicide if …


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  1. Paul_Murphy


    I guess a question here is how much trouble did McKinnon go to in order to get this information.

    By the sounds of things these US servers were not adequately protected when connected to the internet.

    If someone like McKinnon got access then how do the US authorities know that no-one else did (and that McKinnon was responsible for the damage).

    It seems to me that the people that failed to protect the US systems should be the ones hauled before a jury, after all you don't leave your front door unlocked and expect to prosecute anyone who happens to come across it and then enters your property.

    Another side of the coin is the one-sided nature of the extradition treaty, which just seems wrong. I can understand that the Americans want justice, but I wonder if they just want a scapegoat.

    I really do wonder if Labour are dragging things out til the election so that they are not blamed by the US for not extraditing McKinnon, or by the British public for allowing it.


  2. JMB

    After eight years, the music may finally be stopping

    Is it not just Labour has not the courage to tell the Americans to get stuffed and either drop charges or have him tried in the UK but they do not want to risk sending him to the US and getting a long sentence or even worse committing suicide. So they drag it out until after the election then it is the Conservative's problem.

  3. Flugal

    Harm or suicide?

    I am completely against the extradition of Gary McKinnon, not least because of the imbalance between the US and UK requirements to do so.

    However, I do find it odd that it should be reconsidered because of "medical evidence that he might harm himself or even commit suicide if extradited to the US."

    Surely anybody (unless suffering a sever disability) *might* harm themself or commit suicide if they have the physical capabilities to do so.

    Perhaps the report means *significant likelihood"?

    I hope the new appeal works though

    1. Anonymous Coward


      My wife has aspergers (she refuses to call herself an "aspie"). One of the symptoms is an inability to cope with even small amounts of stress. They become unpredictable when faced with unfamiliar and highly stressful situations, and can either turn their stress outwards and become violent and angry, or turn it inwards and harm themselves. She has done the former more than the latter but I have found her smacking herself around the head a couple of times in situation where mist of us would be able to cope quite easily.

      1. SuperTim


        Another symptom of Asperger's is the inability of a subject to recognise certain obsessive traits, or indeed to temper their actions when they are obsessing about subjects. Asperger's doesnt come on late in life, He has always had it and that is probably what drove him to commit the alleged crime. He didnt realise that his actions were irresponsible and continued to do things after "normal" folk would have stopped.

        I am very familiar with this as it appears a relative of mine has now started down this road. he has Asperger's and regularly does stuff like this (though not on an international or illegal scale) He hacks his dad's wifi router whenever he gets kicked off the internet for looking at dodgy sites and generally doesnt realise he is being a bit of an idiot. His siblings on the other hand are completely different.

  4. ShaggyDoggy

    Worst thing

    Exactly - the worst thing that can happen to a government in power is the McKinnon gets extradited then tops himself. I can imagine the headlines.

    Hence labour push it to beyond the election.

    It's almost like Zimabwe here.

    Oh wait ...

  5. Hermes Conran

    Daily Mail headline MCKINNON REPRIVED

    Other News;

    Earthquake in Haiti, no brits harmed.

  6. Carsten Holmskov

    Do the Crime, Do the Time

    Im completely FOR the extradition of him.

    I don't care what "medical grounds" he conjure's up as an excuse or what crap you have about him having "Suffered enough".

    Did the Crime, now Do the Time.

    He is a criminal, a hacker who could have caused severe issues and it does not matter if the US did not protect themselves sufficiently.

    If a guy walks past your kid with a knife and slashes his face, should you be brought before the Judge to answer for "not protecting your kid" even though you were standing next to him at the time ?, should the guy not be punished because it took 8 years to get his case to trial due to legal mumbo-jumbo ?, did he "suffer enough" ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, he's confessed so why isn't he prosecuted?

      He's confessed to breaking the UK Computer Misuse Act, he did it here, UK law applies here. Prosecutors should not be able to juridication shop like this, just because the US law will be more favorable to them. So why hasn't he been prosecuted???

      To me it's almost treasonous, that the penalty for UK law, as decided by UK Parliament is NOT being applied, because the prosecutors would prefer to seek prosecution abroad under some other legal regimen. They want US law to trump UK law, so they refuse to prosecute here, in order to extradite him to some legal process they prefer.

      It's Jurisdiction shopping, pure and simple. It's the most blatant case of it, and the Home Secretary refuses to stop it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "I don't care what "medical grounds" he conjure's up as an excuse"

      The defence are using medical grounds as the government have ensured there are no other grounds on which they can appeal.

      "Did the Crime, now Do the Time."

      Please. Capitalised as well. How drole.

      "He is a criminal,"

      Hasn't been to trial yet, so no.

      "a hacker who could have caused"

      I dare say you have knives in your kitchen, you could have caused someone an injury with them but it doesn't however make you guilty of doing so does it? Get a grip.

      As for slasher the knife and your goat - You do know he didn't actually HACK the server using a knife don't you? You can distnguish that all crimes are not equal I take it. He is not accused of any violence, involving goats or otherwise.

    3. Gilbo

      @Carsten Holmskov

      That example is patently ridulous. There's a 'slight' difference between violently attacking someone scarring them for life and having a rummage around somewhere you're not supposed to be. It's precisely this kind of paranoid, overdramatised wailing that's dragged this nonsense on for so long.

      If he took something that didn't belong to him, that's theft. Breaking and entering when there's literally nothinig to stop him walking in, that's called trespassing. None of which warrants this kind of attention.

      Extradition? Terrorism? Everyone promoting his extradition needs to get their f**king heads read and get some kind of realistic perspective on what actually happened here.

    4. EvilGav 1


      But in your hypothetical stabbing incident, if the parent and child were holiday-makers in a foreign country, would you expect the perpetrator to be extradited to the home country of the holiday-makers for prosecution or face prosecution in the country where the crime took place ?

      Which is the whole problem with this case, the crime took place in the UK, has been admitted to in the UK and the UK have applicable laws, therefore he should be tried for the crime in the UK. The US don't want to do this as every time they've tried so far the case has collapsed due to a lack of evidence.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did the Crime, now Do the Time.

      I knew it would only be a (short) matter of time before someone used that very expression, and complete with bizarre capitalisation. Well done.

      As much as I'd like to argue the case of appropriate punishment, reasonable considerations, dubious use of more dubious treaties and drawing analogies that at least have some vague resemblance to the case in question, I suspect that my attempts would fall on deaf ears. So I'll settle for saying "shut up and go away". Thank you.

    6. Paul 37

      @Carsten Holmskov

      "If a guy walks past your kid with a knife and slashes his face..."

      True, but if I'm plod and you've just brought your kid into the station for the 83 time with a slashed face I would be inclined to think your parenting skills might be at the root of the problem....

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do the Crime, Do the time elsewhere?

      Its always easy to compare an ambiguous and complex 'crime' to an easy one where there is a clear victim and most people would find it morally reprehensible - do you really believe that computer hacking can be compared to slashing a child's face with a knife?

      People are fighting the extradition of Mckinnon not the punishment or trial as you seem to believe. There is a big difference, Mckinnon will be tried in the UK if he successfully fights the extradition not just let free.

      Extradition of a UK citizen should only be done for the most serious of crimes - anybody imprisoned in the US would lose most contact with their family and friends who would rarely be able to visit them due to financial and cost reasons.

    8. Haku
      Thumb Down

      @Carsten Holmskov

      You sir, are an ignorant, inconsiderate imbecile.

      This is one of those times I am glad I am not a Neurotypical, I would be ashamed to be a Neurotypical after reading your post.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Oh god please don't start that here

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Democracy rules

      Wow, I don't think I've ever seen 25 'thumbs-down' votes to a post. You must feel pretty stupid. You won't, of course, but you should.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Wow... Thirty.

        And I was the 30th.

        It's only slightly tempered by El Reg's system saying "We're sorry you didn't like this post", like it is about to take it personally or something...

        <sob!> <sob!> I've just upset a computer! <sob!>

        [I guess the sad computer (can we call the server Marvin, then?) didn't bother to read the post itself or it would have registered my opinion with something like "Yeah, we thought it was drivel too..."]

    10. GettinSadda

      Better analogy

      A better analogy would be that he found an unlocked Rolls Royce parked on the street and got in and sat behind the wheel imagining what it would be like to drive it. If it helps you can imaging him making "broom-broom beep-beep" noises.

      OK, he did wrong and has admitted it, but what seems to now be happening is that he is being effectively prosecuted for steeling the car and running rampage with it through a shopping mall mowing down dozens of innocent shoppers.

      The car owner should have locked the car, and Gary should not have got in (and should probably be punished for that offense) but the rest seems to just be all sorts of stupid stuff tacked on to make a point.

  7. Jimmy Floyd


    Look, he's a terrorist. He was prosecuted* under terrorist legislation, therefore he's a terrorist. Just like Iceland, journalist photographers and that bloke at the back of the Labour Party conference some years back. They're all a menace to society.

    * Yes, I know the difference between prosecuted and convicted. Sadly our DNA-gathering overlords aren't quite so enlightened.

  8. Nigel Callaghan Silver badge

    Don't hold your breath

    Don't bet on a new Home Secretary, of whatever political persuasion, being any different. There's something about the job that turns everyone who gets it into a raving right wing totalitarian extremist. I always thought that no-one could be worse than Michael Howard - he's now fondly remembered as a pinko liberal. If Mother Theresa had been made Home Secretary then within hours she'd have pulled on the jackboots and starting to round up anyone guilty of 'wearing clothing that may conceal a terrorist weapon' , 'possessing equipment of potential use to a terrorist (e.g. a mobile phone)', or 'being in possession of an un-english name'.

    Apart from that, good luck to him. The offence was committed in the UK, therefore he should answer to a British judge (and, hopefully, jury).

  9. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Do the Crime, Do the Time

    If one more person employs the phrase 'If you can't do the time don't do the crime' or variations thereof, I myself will do time.

    Pull a new smug rhyming phrase out of your arse to summarise your wearisome opinion, ruminants.

  10. Tim Croydon
    Thumb Down

    This is getting silly

    If Gary McKinnon is as ill as his defence team claim I can't imagine that all this messing around is going to help his mental state any more than a trip to the States would.

    1. Laurie

      If you're naughty...

      ...don't get caught-ee.

      That is all.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      how about...

      Did some get packing

      Vote for Labour = power to neighbour

      I'll say it up front...Mandelson's a %$%$

      Live in Britain ...get shat on by a bunch of brown-nosing, hypocritcal, labour bas&&&ds (sorry, this one doen't ryhme)

    3. Graham Dawson

      New rhyme?

      Nick the stuff and you're up the duff?

    4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      you should have stopped at '..mental state'. The rest of that sentence just shows your complete lack of empathy.

      There's no doubt that 'waiting to hear' is pretty stressful - but it certainly isn't as stressful as hearing the answer you absolutely don't want to hear.

      Go buy yourself a heart, and then stab it.

  11. JimC

    I would like to know...

    How much money his "defence team" has trousered in this prolonged game. Lets face it, if he'd just pleaded guilty he'd be out of gaol by now and back in the UK and presumably a lot better off mentally...

    1. Cameron Colley

      "better off mentally"

      That would depend on who he shared his cell and the communal areas with with, surely? Would also depend on where he served the sentence -- back when he was accused he could have quite easily been left to rot in Guantanamo bay, being an evil terrorist and all that.

      As for those suggesting he "do the time" -- are you seriously suggesting that 10 years in a maximum security prison full of murderers and people who want to abuse you is the correct punishment for trespassing?

  12. My Alter Ego
    Thumb Down

    @Carsten Holmskov

    I imagine there will be a lot of people replying to you. Yes he committed a crime, he's admitted to it and the UK decided not to prosecute.

    The main issue people have is that the extradition treaty is completely one sided and that the value of damages the US have conjured up don't appear to have any evidence to back them up.

    Also, it appears the US are including in the damages the cost of tightening up security. This is akin to charging a burglar the cost of fitting new locks on all your doors because you never bothered locking them in the first place.

    Yes, I'd be pissed off if somebody walked into my house and nicked stuff because I left the front door unlocked. I do know that I'd be mightily pissed off with myself for being so fucking stupid in the first place.

    I agree with JMB, it does appear that the Labour Government is appearing to act in line with the extradition treaty, but are giving allowing this to drag on until it's somebody else problem. This does of course rely on the fact that the Labour Government aren't so naive that they think they'll stay in power.

    1. Andus McCoatover


      "This is akin to charging a burglar the cost of fitting new locks on all your doors because you never bothered locking them in the first place."

      Well, more like what happens here in my apartment block in Oulu.

      Somehow, by a dint of Finnish ingenuity, every residents key opens the front door, washing place, store, bike shed* etc. But, only mine (and the missus') opens the door to our apartment.

      * The bike shed is opened by a residents key. The bikes aren't, natch. Wouldn't that be a closer corollary to McKinnon's predicament?

      Problem is, if I lose my key, I have to fork out several hundred €'s to have every lock in the building changed. Abloy keys (the newer ones, anyway) cannot be made from another - no locksmith will do it. Landlord is the only one who can provide a replacement - only on presenting the old one - broken or worn out. Like the US demanding McKinnon to fix the locks on their doors they themselves left under the mat?

      Oh, Sarah - don't go to the gym. No pain, no ga..etc...bleagh! Hate it, too.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FAQ UK-US extradition treaty

    Removed the need to show that the person committed the crime:

    "If this order is approved, the United States will no longer be required to supply prima facie evidence to accompany extradition requests that it makes to the United States. By contrast, when we make extradition requests to the United States we shall need to submit sufficient evidence to establish "probable cause""

    Permitted surprise witnesses:

    "the advice we had from the US that the requirement to show a prima facie case could in some cases undermine the chances of the case ultimately succeeding at trial, if for example an inability to rely on hearsay evidence in the extradition request exposed a prosecution witness before the trial."

    US couldn't believe how much of a lapdog Labour had become:

    "But perhaps the most disturbing part of the Standard's Las Vegas transcript is when the Department of Justice man describes how Britain decided to reinterpret the law to help out its American friends with the Norris case. As we have heard, price-fixing was not an offence at the time in Britain. Happily, however, conspiracy to defraud was. So, said Hammond, "the UK Government looked at the information we provided in support of the extradition, and said: 'You know what? That looks like conspiracy to defraud to us'."

    Jacqui Smith says jurisdiction shopping by prosecutors is OK with her, just as long as she can lock up more brits:

    "In December 2007, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, referred to “inaccurate claims in the press” that she was about to introduce an additional statutory bar to extradition called “’forum’ which could prevent extradition where a case could be tried in the UK”, adding that the key issue was to ensure that offences were dealt with in the place where they could be most effectively prosecuted,"

    It's a New Labour lapdog treaty.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Carsten Holmskov

    Yup, I haven't seen the evidence (I mean the evidence *this* side of the atlantic, not some mumbo-jumbo concocted by US officials seeking a scapegoat), so can't really comment on how much time he should do, but there's no doubt that if he damaged computer systems - even ones wide open - he should be punished for it. If I'm an amployee at an organisation and have been given all the passwords I'm in a similar position to Gary - it's also easy for me to mess stuff up by malicious hacking. I suppose I can equally blame the person who have me the password and say it was all their fault?

    Criminal damage is criminal damage in my view, but where I disagree is over the extradition: if the UK can't get convictions for this, they need to brighten up and improve their act instead of 'subcontracting' the prosecution to the US.

  15. Sir Sham Cad

    @Tim Croydon

    Absolutely spot on. This is why it's a travesty that this wasn't sorted out years ago when he pleaded guilty under UK law.

    As for Mr "Do The Crime, Do The Time" above... YES, if only he'd been *allowed* to do the time for the crime he confessed to commiting none of this would even be an issue. The fact is that another government in another legal jurisdiction wants him to do *their* time instead for a crime that doesn't exist as such in this country.

    And that's before we get to the can of worms that is the effect of his Aspergers on a) his Mens Rea and b) his ability to properly respond to a criminal charge.

    JimC, it ain't necessarily so, as there's also a huge difference in the type of facility he'd be sent to under US law rather than here in the UK. In terms of time served, you're probably right but my understanding is that, over there, he'd be doing time in Max rather than probably an open prison or something here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nobody has seen the evidence

      "Yup, I haven't seen the evidence (I mean the evidence *this* side of the atlantic, not some mumbo-jumbo concocted by US officials seeking a scapegoat),"

      That's the most shocking thing, the treaty pushed by Blunkett removed the need to show the prima facie evidence. He wanted to the US to sign it and thus show how close UK and US were, but they added (quite sensibly in my view) the requirement that US citizens could not be extradited without sight of the evidence.

      What the US provides the UK is evidence relating to the crime, and the identity of the person they are accusing. what's missing is the prima facie evidence that this person committed that crime.

      Imagine I'd accused you of stabbing Dan in Florida. I provide evidence that stabbing is a serious crime, and hence under the extradition treaty. I provide evidence of your identity. But I don't provide evidence that YOU did THAT crime, and so you cannot challenge that evidence to prevent extradition. The prima facie evidence requirement was removed.

      So you are extradited to face trial in the US, you lose your job, because your job does not travel with you, you can't pay your mortgage, and lose your house, your wife leaves you because she needs to eat, and even if you prove your innocence, your life is destroyed.

      Lapdog Labour.

      They were so keen to prove what a lapdog they were, Brits were expendable.

      And the Home Secretary should protect Brits from misuse of this treaty, but Alan Johnson, Labour Home Secretary, would rather talk up the crime in Parliament to influence the prosecution to make it more serious than the Magistrates matter it is under UK law. Thus justifying his own unsustainable position.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      "If I'm an amployee at an organisation and have been given all the passwords I'm in a similar position to Gary"

      No you're not. You're in a trusted position and exploiting that means you'll get the hammer. Trying a door handle and having a peek inside when the door turns out to be unlocked is a far smaller crime than having the key and then going for a rummage in places you have no obvious, work-related reason to access. Stealing something from an unlocked room will even land you a smaller sentence than stealing something from a locked room for which you have the key.

      At least that's how it is here in the civilized world. Can't speak for GB or US where the laws obviously differ a bit from ours.

  16. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Medical evidence? WTF?

    Why the hell is so much of the argument about medical evidence and not about the far more serious aspect of the US punishing people in the UK for what they do. So he looked on some poorly protected computers and inadvertently humiliated some important people in the process, who have rightly been shown up to be incompetent fools unable to manage their own security.

    The law has become so twisted that UK citizens are no longer protected from the abuses of power of other countries as well as our own Police State. Which is just wonderful.

    Plus we have yet another example of how newly added anti-terror laws are being abused to reach out and punish someone very evidently who has nothing to do with terrorism. But now the laws are in place, they can use the laws for all sorts of abuses of power. This war on terror(tm) seems ever more like a sales pitch for a global Police State.

    This case isn't just about one hacker, its showing us all we are now ever more vulnerable to the abuses of power of other countries as well as our own Police State.

    So now thanks to this case, we have to watch one more very drawn out public (metaphorical) flogging, to make a point against us all. (Yes don't dare look into a US computer. Yes we get it, next lesson in obedient compliance please). So much for true justice. So much for fairness. So much for freedom. So much for liberty. So much for privacy. So much for dignity. But hey, we can now all at least, sleep quietly at night, safe in the knowledge the terrorists are not going to terrorize us. Sadly we can't say the same for the terrorizing we are all suffering at the hands of our own Police State and now it seems, any other Police State that wishes to reach out and punish us to make a point. :(

  17. Syren Baran

    Just keep him in the UK

    it´ll save the Americans a whole lot of embaresment. Just think about it.

    Flash back a couple of years....

    "Dude, we got hacked because we didnt change the passwords."

    "Damn, what do we tell the general?"

    "Tell him something about a superhacker."

    Years later the general tells McKinnon

    "Now hack the chinese!"

    "I cant, they changed the default passwords."

  18. Giles Jones Gold badge

    We could say no

    What would the US do if we said no and kept him in the UK?

    They're not going to bomb us or implement sanctions against us. We're their partner in two wars.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Don't bet on it ...

      How many former 'allies' have the US turned on in the past?

      Let's see - do the names Hussein, Noriega and bin Laden ring any bells?

      I understand that all of these had (at some stage) received support from US-based 'agencies' in the past! Why should lapdogs Blair & Brown and their NuLab cohorts be any different. The rest of the population would just be 'colateral damage'!

  19. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  20. N2 Silver badge

    He did the US Govt a very big favour

    Were it not for his actions which I understand did little if any damage other than to the self pride of good ole Uncle Sam, the Chinese would have done it instead & made a hell of a lot more mess.

    So if there is a 'special relationship' then he needs to be extradited to the US, thanked most sincerely & sent back (or is it de-extradited?) with a fairly large cheque.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ship the dud off to the U.S.

    Time for Gary to face the music and 30+ years in a U.S. prison for his crimes like any other criminal. Gary like his fanbois is in complete denial and always whinning. Man-up Gary. You did the crime now do the time.

  22. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)


    There have been 122 stories to date on the Reg mentioning McKinnon. I will have moderated comments on most of them. Pity me. And remember that your chances of fresh insight at this point are slim to the point of you should probably just fuck it off and go to the pub about now.

    1. Graham Dawson


      Feeling a bit frazzled? Maybe you should take your own advice and clock out early.

      Hey, it's friday! When did that happen?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Govt report card logs UK hacking conviction success rate

      (My emphasis).

      "The number of successful prosecutions under the Computer Misuse Act came in a written parliamentary answer .... The answer - published in Hansard here - gives a break-down by year and seriousness of offence."

      "Section One, the *LEAST* *SERIOUS* category, includes simple unauthorised access to a computer while Section three offences cover the creation of computer viruses and (more recently) the instigation of denial of service attacks that impair the operation of computers. Section Two offences cover unauthorised modification (computer hacking) as a part of some other crime."

      So just to be clear, the UK law, the law as created by the Parliament of MPs YOU elected, the Parliament that covers the UK, decided that category 1 offences are the LEAST serious and the sort of thing Magistrates deal with.

      So yes, he should do HIS COMMUNITY SERVICE for 30 days as is normal in these cases under the law of the land.

      If Alan Johnson or Jacqui Smith or David Blunket wish to live under some other law of some other land, they can f*** off to America, and the UK would be better for them leaving.

    3. I didn't do IT.

      God Love You, Sarah Bee

      You have no idea how wonderful you make my (and others', surely!) day to know you are out there.

      A pint, as you well deserve it. It is Friday, after all. :)

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: God Love You, Sarah Bee

        I'll take it.

    4. Dave Harris

      Joys of GMT+8

      I don't even *read* McKinnon stories until I'm in the pub. And it's approaching closing time. And I'm getting the hurry up from SWMBO (late tonight).

      Ms Bee, I sincerely hope they pay you enough to put up with our crap.

  23. Bassey

    Lawyer harm

    Never mind the rights or wrongs of the extradition (he's admitted to the crime so I'm happy with him being tried here or in the US) the dragging out of the whole thing by his legal team appears to have resulted in a much longer sentence (8 years of horrible uncertainty and duress) than had he just gone to the US in the first place. This does have all the stink of a legal team doing everything they can to show how clever they are and sod the client's interests.

  24. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Re : Do the Crime, Do the Time

    And all other "he's confessed" arguments ...

    What he may or may not have said, what may or may not be a crime, has never been tested in any court of law so far.

    I may admit to having been in someone's house but that does not mean I admit any guilt of burglary nor causing millions of pounds worth of alleged damage.

    The real issue here is about throwing a British citizen to the wolves who want and need a scapegoat for their own failings with virtually no questions asked. I personally think that the Aspergers and potential for self-harm defence should not need to be the basis for stopping his extradition. Because the government doesn't seek to protect its own citizens from the clutches of foreign powers it's unfortunately the only tool which can be used.

  25. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Ship the dud off to the U.S.

    You are twelve kinds of idiot and I'm rejecting your sorry butt for the rest of the afternoon.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      WOW, there are 12 kinds?

      Blimey. :)

      1. Haku

        @Sir Runcible Spoon

        Q: What's the difference between intelligence and stupidity?

        A: There's a limit to intelligence.

    2. Tim Croydon

      Get Orlowski to write future McKinnon stories

      Then you won't have any comments to moderate.

      Perhaps the system should tally up the +/- points against posters so we can see how much gravitas they have (like the 'reputation score' on StackOverflow). Bonus points for particularly funny posts, lose points for stupidity and lose lots for bad grammar/spelling/trolling.

      I admire your patience!

      1. david wilson


        >>"Perhaps the system should tally up the +/- points against posters so we can see how much gravitas they have."

        On a straight tech forum, where a lot of the content is objective, I guess that could work fairly well, but many of the more active comment threads here seem to be more about opinions than facts, so a score could end up being more about popularity/conformity than actual quality of posts.

        I can certainly think of some threads where daring to disagree with (or even question) a strident minority (let alone a majority) would pretty much guarantee ending up with multiple '-' ratings if people thought the rating actually mattered.

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      You tell'em girl

      I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads comments on these stories mainly for _ypour_ contributions.

      Here, this one's on me

  26. lukewarmdog

    partner in war

    And like most partners they screw you, run up massive debts in your name and then bugger off to live in the nice big house that you somehow ended up paying for. Thank deity we never had kids, getting custody would make this look like a walk in the park.

  27. Andrew Culpeck
    Thumb Down

    No Justice

    If he gets sent to the US he will not be given the same rights as a US citizan. The US has shown what it thinks of none US subjects with a little camp in a Cuban bay. He can expect a show trial and the rest of his life in prison on a set of drempt up charges that will make him look like a master criminal rarther than a minor hacker.

    I think he will be used as a scape goat to hide the real failings of those in charge of US security.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This extradition thing sucks

    Especially Jaqui Smith's comments about 'extradite to countries where there is a higher probability of conviction". Yeah..let's outsource all prosecutions the country where punishment is highest for the crime - regardless of the laws and penalties in the UK.

    Perhaps we should have an extradition treaty with Iran and send them women suspected (no evidence required) of marriage infidelity. Doesn't sound such a good idea now does it (and hey, if the women did the crime they should do the time, right? (or be stoned to death by a 3rd-party government/regime who just happen to take punishment for this type of crime to the extreme....ring any bells).

  29. TrinityX

    Let him go

    After all the crap the poor guy's been through because NASA don't know how to secure their systems I think he should be let off. Disgusting travesty of justice from day one.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    The US Govt. should sponsor a remake..

    of the 1983 film 'War Games'.

    Only in their version the 'innocent/terrorist' kid would be sent to the chair (after being forced to wear orange for a decade and rogered rigid in the shower)

  31. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I hope the US get their man

    and they also let us have those IRA bombers walking the streets of the US with impunity and also the US citizens that paid to blow up that cop in NI last week....

    Our government seems quite keen on the wearing the orange suit and the other bits mentioned by AC 14:42

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All the postings above tell me,..

    a) the ability to classify the offence is hampered by the lack of evidence on offer,

    b) the legal world is having a hard time defining types of IT crime, and

    c) the lack of a) and b) is limiting the ability of readers here to analyse the issue properly.

    I have no actual answers, only what I hope are relevant observations.

    1. Red Bren

      Don't come round here and sit on the fence with your reasonable observations!

      You may not know anything about the issue, but i bet you reckon something.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    I agree with TrinityX

    let the poor guy off

    give him a slap

    but dont deport him

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Is he still here?

    Here's how I see it, using the house analogy:

    Someone walks uninvited into your house - yes, admittedly because you stupidly didn't lock the door - and then rummages through your stuff, perhaps breaking a few things along the way. He also leaves you a note saying "I am BOB - I will continue to disrupt...", so you're pretty sure he has zero regrets and intends to rifle through the contents of someone else's house, too.

    He's later caught by the cops and says he was only looking for little green men in your sock-drawer, has Aspergers - oh, and his mummy says he's likely to commit suicide.

    Yeah, that's perfectly understandable and forgivable - we'd better just let him off, right?

    As for the whole UK/US argument - screw him. He may have committed the offenses *from* the UK, but the injury itself occurred *within* the US - so they are therefore perfectly within their rights to want him tried there.

    Guantanamo Bay - bollocks. Even if he's found guilty, he'll get a slap on the wrist and sent home eventually.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is not a house

      so don't try and bring in private space as an argument.

      It was US government computer systems, which should have been secured. And he wasn't in the US at the alleged time, so he didn't commit this crime in the US.

      A US computer system forwarded on the alleged intrusion, that is where the US crime took place and whoever runs that system should be hauled up in the US, as the US has the authority to do so, it being on their territory. Until they determine that each node on US territory wasn't the originator they have no grounds, and if an entry node is determined, then the buck stops there, unless they wish to bring charges in the UK.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    If this runs any more it will be used as a political vote carrot

    I can see the lib dems or the cons doing a campaign were they say they will make fairer extradition agreements that are balanced in so much as they are a two-way process. How many criminals are in the states who should be doing time over here and also compensating victims, have to wonder that given all the florida beach scam artists in florida on watchdog and the likes. Does make you wonder.

    But how do you punish somebody like Gary for what he actualy did, make him write out 1000 times "There are no UFO's, just undocumented aircraft :)". What will it achieve, what will the Americans gain from prosecuting him over in the states as apposed to the UK.

    One comprimise thats been overlooked is for him to be tried and and sentence carried out on a USAF airbase in the UK as they are technicaly american soil. This would be a simple and easy solution to what is in effect were he does time.

    One seriously overlooked aspect is all this publicity is not something somebody with Aspergers would be all that comfortable with. There are and will be times were Gary will want to not engage with others and in that respect he has lost that level of privacy which we all take for granted. For somebody like himself I can imagine that would be more a punishment than any form of isolation.

    But seriously, let him have a trial and do any time in the UK on USA soil, best of both worlds and a solution that will appease so many and let this man move on instead of being dragged around like the last football at soccer practice. Becasue the longer this drags on the more it will haunt him, more than any time spent behind bars, which given all the publicity is probably something he would be glad of, just for the privacy.

    But in all honestly I wouldn't call him a hacker, more a opertunist. that and people who use weak locks are just as guilty of a crime than the person who fell thru that poorly locked door. there again doing a perl script to run thru a word dictionary is hardly a clever thing to be doing in the first place. Also for the damage he did, well its wasn't realy damage he did more a case of the cost of putting proper locks on which should of been done in the first place. Realy, who was actualy hurt over this and what actual damage was done. Only long term damage I'm soing is self impossed political face and the reputation of the goverment officials to demonstrate any balls at all. Also some could argue the emotional damage done to Gary thru dragging this all out thru neglagent mishanderlings is something that can never be fixed and will lead to anxiety attacks in one form or another either now or in later life. If the next headline you read is about Gary taking his life then who would actualy be supprised I wonder; Sad isn't it that some dont count until its too late.

  36. Colonel Panic

    There but for the grace of God...

    Here is why you should be very, very careful of what you do on holiday:

    1. You can now be extradited to many countries without them showing the Court here the evidence

    2. The only requirements are that it would be an offence here and that you COULD get 12 months

    3. Re-read point 2 - that's could, not would. Nick a Mars bar, you could get years - you would probably get a fine. No matter, you are off. What's that ? Life destroyed ? Tough.

    4. For EU countries, it doesn't even have to be an offence here, provided you could get 3 years

    5. Cops beat you up ? Torture witnesses ? You're still off - "it can be all be sorted out at trial".

    IAAL - but IAMNYL.

    Be careful out there...

    1. John H Woods


      I googled it, but i just found your post again :-) CTE? (Care to explain)

      1. david wilson


        I think CP meant 'I Am Not Your Lawyer', but added a spurious 'M' in the acronym.

    2. Ascylto

      Spelling and grammar ...

      are so poor in this post that I can't be bothered reading it in full.

  37. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge


    Is Jail about punishment or rehabilitation? We have many a thread on these forums about things such as copyright and patents, and how these exist not to reward the creators and inventors, but rather to encourage others to do the same. Copyrights, patents even the justice system are all society-level construct that exists in order to (we hope) better society as a whole.

    We can look at patent trolls and begin to call for a review and perhaps reformation of the patent system. Many also observe or the shenanigans of “Big Content” and call for the same with regards to copyright. Perhaps issues things like the McKinnon trial should give us cause to question our views (and that of society as a whole) as regards the justice system. Do we put people in jail to "punish them for their misdeeds," or is it an attempt by society to teach these individuals what they have done wrong, and why.

    Should someone be “made to suffer” for a misdeed, or is it enough that someone has well and truly “learned their lesson and won’t do it again?” Some people may well be incorrigible, we need ways to identify and deal with them. If one society feels that their justice system better serves the needs of that society through rehabilitation (for those that can be rehabilitated,) what then if that individual is asked to be extradited into a society with different views?

    Many countries which do not support capital punishment will not extradite one of their citizens to a country which may execute that citizen for their crime. Perhaps the question should be asked should a citizen from a country that seeks to rehabilitate its offenders be extradited to a country whose justice system is focused on punishment.

    Where do the UK and the US’s justice systems, and the opinions of their populaces sit?

    Aren’t these “bigger questions” more important than one case, or one man?

    Havening ignored most McKinnon threads to date, I’ve no idea how often these questions have been asked. Sorry for (likely) rehashing old ideas Sarah!

  38. heyrick Silver badge

    Bogus request

    His physical entity "himself" was based in the United Kingdom. His computers, his tools, his connection.

    Where he hacked is neither here nor there. The crime was *committed* in the UK. End of.

    Why do so many people have difficulty with this? Or would you prefer crap extradition requests, which opens the door for the Americans to request all sorts of criminals (that would probably receive a slap on the wrist in this country) in order to exact their chosen form of "revenge".

    Fact is, they got caught with their pants down.

    But this is hardly surprising, for the country would appear to prefer to legislate against hacking rather than doing anything useful about their own security. I wonder if they've even patched it up yet?

    I say they should think themselves damn lucky it's a guy that probably believes Nixon spoke to superintelligent aliens. It could have been a LOT worse. It could have been an <insert random terrorist group> hack.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      >>>His physical entity "himself" was based in the United Kingdom. His computers, his tools, his connection.

      >>>Where he hacked is neither here nor there. The crime was *committed* in the UK. End of.

      Er.... not so fast, matey. I see things the other way - the damage itself occurred to systems *in* the US - where he committed his crime *from* is irrelevant, to my way of thinking. The injured party should have the right to choose where to seek justice.

      What if he'd hacked a bank in the UK and gotten away with billions, but he'd been doing from his laptop in some scuzzy little island in the South Pacific which has no laws against computer offenses whatsoever? Should that mean he's free and clear from prosecution?

  39. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Civil Serpent

    We still don't know the name of the twat who signed the one-way extradition agreement with the US where they get to protect their citizens (rightly) and we don't.

    Where's John Wayne when you need him (or Superman would do).

  40. Stephen Jenner

    Remember the Lisbon Treaty!

    "Conservative leader and PM in waiting (if opinion polls are to be believed) David Cameron has publicly backed McKinnon."

    So that is OK then, following a cast-iron guarantee from "Dave", McKinnon is perfectly safe, just like our referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

    With "Dave's" kind of reliability record, it wouldn't surprise me if McKinnon isn't marched onto a military plane and off to the USA in chains the day after the election. Dave will say something like, "we have to move on, the material facts have changed, we have to deal with the situation as it is now," etc. etc.

  41. Inachu


    I agree with -DO THE CRIME DO THE TIME.

    But when other countries like Israel just pat the kid on the back for hacking and they do not go to jail then why should this kid.

    I say if Israel lets people get away with it then others should too.

  42. Darren Forster
    Thumb Down

    More protection for Iraqi than UK citizen.

    Just saw a really bad news story this morning that puts all this Gary McKinnon thing into full perspective.

    A judge has ruled that a Schizophrenic should not be deported to Iraq after murdering two NHS hospital workers after saying he got a calling from Allah, because it would break his human rights and he might not get the proper treatment.

    YET we seem determined to deport somebody who has not killed anyone, just hacking into a system that had major security holes in it, who is at risk of killing himself if he is deported. And he didn't even commit the crime in the US so he should be tried in the UK anyway where he committed the crime.

    The US seem to think they can constantly dictate their rules to the entire world, you only need to look at some of the "dumb" legal letters that companies in the US used to send to The Pirate Bay in Sweden to see how stupidly the Americans think they can enforce their law worldwide.

    Why the protection of human rights laws for the Iraqi and not for the British person. If the British government do decide to deport Gary McKinnon then they are being racist towards the British people, yet we are expected to put up with them being racist because apparently racism only counts if it's against the ethnic minority. Sorry but to treat someone totally different regardless of whether or not they are the ethnic minority is still racism.

    The only thing is he might actually be better in America than the UK as their support for people with Aspergers is far better than the NHS's. I have Aspergers and ADHD and the support I receive from the NHS is appalling. Throughout School, College and University they missed Aspergers and just put it down to ADHD and "oh he'll grow out of it", something that the NHS regularly falsely claimed about ADHD (without bothering to look at all other countries stating that Adult ADHD does exist, and now they're trying to cover up all the mess ups they made).

    It finally took a Scout leader to notice my Autistic tendencies, and even after that I got sent all over the country trying to get a diagnosis (eventually ending up with Prof. Digby Tantum in Sheffield for AS, and The Priory re-assessing my ADHD - just in time for me turning 25 which is the age when most support for special needs ends in this country, quite convenient timing wasn't it?).

    After the assessment I was told they'd supply cognitive behaviour therapy to help my ADHD/Aspergers. The best CBT they offered was to go and join a support centre for various mentally ill people so you can get involved with loads of activities (with ADHD I don't need any more activities). At present I am being supported by WAspS which was a group set up originally by parents with AS due to the lack of support from the NHS for Aspergers.

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