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Gary McKinnon will not be extradited from the UK to the USA
October 16, 2012 5:25 AM   Subscribe

British computer hacker Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the US, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced. [bbc]. She stated that "a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights." on grounds of his mental illness(es) and propensity for suicidal thoughts. On a broader level she has also indicated that a forum bar will be available in future extraditions to the USA, meaning a court will be able to consider whether it would be more appropriate for a trial to be held in the UK.

McKinnon's case has been on-going for a decade and has been discussed here before (and before). The announcement of a forum bar is particularly interesting as the UK has a very rapid, wide-ranging and much criticised extradition treaty with the USA. Where crimes were allegedly committed online (everything from frauds to running a torrent listings site) extradition may be more difficult in the future.

McKinnon may still face trial in the UK. His case will be considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
posted by samworm (40 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fantastic Decision.
Well done Theresa Muh Theresa Muhmmmmm Theresa Hnggnnmmmmuuaahh

Nope can't do it.
posted by fullerine at 5:31 AM on October 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


May has also announced a government desire to withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant scheme; it looks rather like an effort to reassert control over the extradition process to avoid more Assange/McKinnon-style problems.
posted by jaduncan at 5:40 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is truly good news.
posted by dbiedny at 5:52 AM on October 16, 2012


Dear UK: whatever happened to "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?"
posted by Twang at 5:54 AM on October 16, 2012


I was about to post this myself: excellent news.

Transcript of a 2006 interview with McKinnon:
GM: Unlike the press would have you believe, it wasn't very clever. I searched for blank passwords, I wrote a tiny Perl script that tied together other people's programs that search for blank passwords, so you could scan 65,000 machines in just over eight minutes.

SK: So you're saying that you found computers which had a high-ranking status, administrator status, which hadn't had their passwords set - they were still set to default?

GM: Yes, precisely.

SK: Were you the only hacker to make it past the slightly lower-than-expected lines of defence?

GM: Yes, exactly, there were no lines of defence. There was a permanent tenancy of foreign hackers. You could run a command when you were on the machine that showed connections from all over the world, check the IP address to see if it was another military base or whatever, and it wasn't.

posted by Acey at 5:58 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems this case was decided on very narrow (indeed sole) grounds having nothing to do with the online nature of the crime or really anything to do with Britain's stance on extradition:

"The home secretary told MPs there was no doubt Mr McKinnon was "seriously ill" and the extradition warrant against him should be withdrawn. Mrs May said the sole issue she had to consider was his human rights."

OK so they can spin it like the UK is "toughening" up, but c'mon, really? This is a weak and pathetic demonstration of sovereignty compared to how the US refused to extradite IRA murderers to the UK during the Troubles.
posted by three blind mice at 6:01 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're probably running low on room at the Ecuadorian embassy.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 6:13 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK so they can spin it like the UK is "toughening" up, but c'mon, really? This is a weak and pathetic demonstration of sovereignty compared to how the US refused to extradite IRA murderers to the UK during the Troubles.


Who gives a shit? Now at least one American prosecutor will have to forgo the opportunity to grandstand over a harmless script kiddie. A good day for both the US and the UK.
posted by ocschwar at 6:24 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


script kiddie

It doesn't count as being a SK if you write the scripts yourself.
posted by jaduncan at 7:01 AM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Upon hearing the news that McKinnon would not be extradited due to his depression, Julian Assange was reported to be spending today pulling sad faces in the mirror.
posted by Optamystic at 7:38 AM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Good for justice everywhere.

Wise decision in light of the fact that the UK recently extradited Abu Hamza to the US.

Nice to see a law implemented to bring a terrorist to justice not being misused to ruin the life of a man clearly unwell with Aspergers.

I wonder if he found any UFO evidence anyway
posted by Hickeystudio at 7:51 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice to see a law implemented to bring a terrorist to justice not being misused to ruin the life of a man clearly unwell with Aspergers.


As a borderline case myself, I'm less than keen on establishing a precedent that puts me a hair's breadth from losing legal autonomy.

What happened with McKinnon should not happen to anyone.
posted by ocschwar at 7:57 AM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good news.
posted by Artw at 8:01 AM on October 16, 2012


Abu Hamza

...on the other hand fuck that guy.

Am I favouring harmless schizophrenics over hate spewing demonstrable assholes? Probably, yes.
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


...on the other hand

I see what you did there.
posted by jaduncan at 8:14 AM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Honest mistake! You can't put me on the hook for that!
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Goddamn it, I was about to say in a fight between you he'd put in a good couple of hooks.

I believe they have now been confiscated by the judge and replaced with prosthetic hands, so I'm not the only person to think it.
posted by jaduncan at 8:16 AM on October 16, 2012


The Economist has an earlier article has some interesting tidbits:

"Such cases stoke unease over what many see as Britain’s loss of legal sovereignty, and especially over the fact that so many Britons are being tried elsewhere for offences committed wholly or partly in Britain. The government insists the extradition flow has not been entirely westward: between January 2004 and April 2012, England and Wales sent 83 people to America (refusing nine requests) while America handed over 41 (with no refusals). But dig deeper, suggests Dominic Raab, a Conservative MP, and you see that Britain has extradited seven of its nationals for each American coming the other way. And no American has been extradited for offences committed entirely on American soil.

One reason for the imbalance is that America, with its big, well-resourced and territorially ambitious Department of Justice, is more inclined than Britain’s poorer and weedier prosecutors to tackle white-collar crime in particular.

posted by Bwithh at 8:23 AM on October 16, 2012


it looks rather like an effort to reassert control over the extradition process to avoid more Assange/McKinnon-style problems.
posted by jaduncan at 5:40 AM on October 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


Nah, I think this is just to please the Tory Euroskeptic right ( and it's May's personal inclinations anyway). It's part of a general opt-out-from-as-much-as-possible attitude to the EU that's emerging with Cameron's government. (this wouldn't affect other bilateral US-UK cases like McKinnon's anyway)
posted by Bwithh at 8:25 AM on October 16, 2012


I notice the Ecuadorian embassy still has not been stormed.
posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gary McKinnon, like Talha Ahsan, has Asperger's Syndrome. Unlike Ahsan, McKinnon is not a Muslim. Think about that before praising Theresa Shitstain May.
posted by howfar at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2012


This is giving Richard O'Dwyer some hope.

More on that.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:42 PM on October 16, 2012


This is giving Richard O'Dwyer some hope.

Not likely. If he's relying on Theresa May's kindness O'Dwyer's fucked with a capital 'fuck'. The Daily Mail have had their mercy meat.
posted by howfar at 12:46 PM on October 16, 2012


Gary McKinnon, like Talha Ahsan, has Asperger's Syndrome. Unlike Ahsan, McKinnon is not a Muslim.

"It is claimed they used the now defunct site - Azzam Publications - to upload extremist videos, raise funds for the Taliban and insurgents in Chechnya."

Hmmm...

That's a bit different from thinking NASA is run by aliens.
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on October 16, 2012


a) McKinnon wasn't looking for UFOs, he seems to have been politically motivated.
b) How distasteful one finds someone's alleged crimes really isn't a principle of justice.
c) The reason given for keeping McKinnon in the UK is not "aw he's just a silly billy", it is his disability.
d) If you think that McKinnon would be staying in the UK were he brown skinned or a Muslim, you're not living in the real world.
posted by howfar at 1:21 PM on October 16, 2012


"US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels … " - Gary McKinnon.

I'm genuinely pleased for Gary McKinnon, but this is lowest common denominator cynical Tory bullshit.
posted by howfar at 1:24 PM on October 16, 2012


McKinnon wasn't looking for UFOs, he seems to have been politically motivated.

He appears to be politically motivated in as much that anyone given to grandiose conspiracy theories involving aliens is politically motivated. On the other hand, he does not appear to be part of a support network for Al Queda like Ahsan, hook cleric and the rest. Fuck 'em.
posted by Artw at 1:36 PM on October 16, 2012


b) How distasteful one finds someone's alleged crimes really isn't a principle of justice.


What I find distasteful is the way American prosecutors will pick one person and "perp walk" him, meaning charge him with counts way out of proportion to what he allegedly did, overpublicize the proceedings to the extent of jeopardizing his chance to a fair trial, and present this whole charade as proof that they're doing their job.

Meanwhile, hundreds of other worse criminals of the same stripe are not being prosecuted at all.

He did not steal any money, or try to sell secrets to foreign agencies. He was the kind of nuisance I had to shoo away from my network in my early sysadmin days. And 60 years in prison is way out of proportion.
posted by ocschwar at 1:42 PM on October 16, 2012


artw Well, it's pretty clear that McKinnon's alleged crimes occurred in the US. If you're so hot on prosecuting crime, what pleases you about May's decision? You think the law should be enforced according to your personal sympathy? Presumably you're equally sanguine about drone strikes, as long as you feel they're used against people you can comfortably write off.

ocschwar I agree with you. What I disagree with is using the law as a political football. That's the direction tyranny lies in.
posted by howfar at 1:51 PM on October 16, 2012


he seems to have been politically motivated.
This appears to be an assertion, on account of there being no bloody evidence cited.

c) The reason given for keeping McKinnon in the UK is not "aw he's just a silly billy", it is his disability.
Oh, yeah, and the outrageous sentence and isolation a depressed ASD sufferer may be subject to. "Cruel & unusual" seems apposite.

d) If you think that McKinnon would be staying in the UK were he brown skinned or a Muslim, you're not living in the real world.
Yeah, it took the nakedly racist British government 10 years to come the clearly racist decision to ... what ... Keep Britain Aspergers?
Grow up and realise that sometimes [not often, and maybe to their own benefit, but sometimes] Tory governments do the right thing.

This maybe one of them.

Now, don't be seduced into voting for 'em, will you?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:01 PM on October 16, 2012


Well, it's pretty clear that McKinnon's alleged crimes occurred in the US.

Nah, that's another of your assertions. If Fidel broadcasts porn from Cuba to Florida, where is the offence committed?

If Hitler bombs London with missiles from Germany, where is the offence committed?

The offences take place in the location of the offender, is my argument. I agree there is a debate, but that is my stance in it, and it's shared by a fair few people.

I would also say - what harm did he do? Present the answer to that in court, and [if your weak security doesn't embarrass the US government] let UK judges & lawyers decide.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:09 PM on October 16, 2012


c) The reason given for keeping McKinnon in the UK is not "aw he's just a silly billy", it is his disability.
Oh, yeah, and the outrageous sentence and isolation a depressed ASD sufferer may be subject to. "Cruel & unusual" seems apposite.


The same argument applies to Talha Ahsan.

Nah, that's another of your assertions...If Hitler bombs London with missiles from Germany, where is the offence committed?

Well, obviously London. But in any case, the same argument applies to Talha Ahsan with much greater strength.

Yeah, it took the nakedly racist British government 10 years to come the clearly racist decision to ... what ... Keep Britain Aspergers?

No, it extradited a Muslim man to whom your arguments apply with the same or greater force.

Grow up and realise that sometimes [not often, and maybe to their own benefit, but sometimes] Tory governments do the right thing.

Read what you're arguing against before throwing around playground taunts. "Grow up" indeed. Jesus fucking Christ. Preventing McKinnon's extradition is a good thing, as I've said. What is not a good thing is using the powers of an office of state to appease the Daily Mail.
posted by howfar at 4:17 PM on October 16, 2012


Are you arguing that Ahsan should not be deported or that he should have but you're upset at the reasoning?
posted by Artw at 4:23 PM on October 16, 2012


Essentially my view is that action that avoids anyone anyone falling into the machinery of the US legal system on a terror or related charge is a good thing from a utilitarian and natural justice perspective in their case. However, I don't think that the manipulation of extradition law for political ends is a good thing from a legal perspective.

My personal take is that the Ahsan deportation is one of a group of deportations in which the only connection to the US appears to be the use of US based servers. I am much more uncomfortable with the notion that Ahsan committed a crime in the US than I am with the notion that McKinnon did. I am ultimately more persuaded by the legal argument than the emotional one. Changing our extradition relationship with the US is a good thing, politicians acting to subvert the law as it stands is a bad thing.
posted by howfar at 4:29 PM on October 16, 2012


By "emotional", I suppose I also mean "moral". It's not the job of the legal system to interpret the law in a manner that fits our moral preferences. It is the job of politicians to enact moral laws.
posted by howfar at 4:32 PM on October 16, 2012


Laws that are moral, not laws of morality. (Last post in the string, sorry!)
posted by howfar at 4:33 PM on October 16, 2012


Janis Sharp: My son Gary McKinnon has won justice at last
posted by homunculus at 12:46 AM on October 17, 2012






Heh. Of course this feeds back into the spooky woo-woo...
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on October 23, 2012


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