Sunday, 2 August 2009

The case of Gary McKinnon

The case of Gary McKinnon, the 43-year-old man with Asperger's Syndrome, who faces deportation to the USA for allegedly hacking into 97 United States military computers, including those owned by NASA, the USA Army, USA Navy, Department of Defense and the USA Air Force in 2001 and 2002, featured very strongly in the news last week.

The US authorities claim McKinnon deleted critical files from operating systems, which shut down the US Army's Military District of Washington network of 2,000 computers for 24 hours, as well as deleting USA Navy Weapons logs, rendering a naval base's network of 300 computers inoperable.

If extradited to the USA and found guilty, McKinnon faces up to 60 years in jail.

I think that McKinnon's condition, Asperger's Syndrome, should be taken into account regarding his actions. What was the state of his mind at the time? Even having AS however, is not to fully excuse him. McKinnon MUST be tried for these very serious offences, but that trial must take place in the UK. If he is convicted, he must be detained in the UK. Although McKinnon's crimes were committed against the USA, he was based in the UK when he carried them out.

If McKinnon had raped or murdered an American woman in London, would he deported and tried in New York?. If McKinnon had done the same to a British woman in San Francisco, would he be tried for it at the Old Bailey?

McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, is naturally against the extradition, and has appealed to President Obama to halt it. I don't know how old his mother is. Say if Mrs Sharp is 66 years old at the present, and her son, if convicted, receives a 60-year sentence in the States, that would make Mrs Sharp 126 years old when he is released!, so there is a very strong chance she would rarely see him again, or if do so on a regular basis, she would at least have to relocate to the USA. If McKinnon is tried and convicted in the UK, and jailed here, at least Mrs Sharp would be able to visit him in prison, and therefore would not have to relocate.

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