Sunday, 29 November 2009

Gary McKinnon's extradition

Last Thursday, 26th November, it was announced that the Home Secretary Alan Johnson has rejected a last ditch appeal by Gary McKinnon, the computer hacker who, like myself, has Asperger's Syndrome against extradition to the USA, where he will eventually face trial for his allegedly hacking into 97 USA military and Nasa computers, causing around £425,000 of damage. If found guilty, McKinnon could face up to 60 years in prison. He is now 43 years of age, being born on Thursday 10th February 1966. If he serves a full sentence, he could be 103 years old when released, so he almost certainly will never be released if he does.

I found Johnson's decision to be disgusting. As I wrote on my blog earlier this year, McKinnon was in the UK when he allegedly committed the crime. Therefore, if found guilty, he should serve time in the UK. This would also apply if McKinnon had been an NT hacker. If McKinnon committed the crime whilst in Canada, after being found guilty, he should serve time in a Canadian jail. If he had committed the crime in Australia, then he should serve time in an Australian jail. If he was in the USA, then he should serve time in the USA, but he wasn't.

David Cameron can see that McKinnon's extradition is unfair. Boris Johnson, the London Mayor and home secretary's namesake, can see that it is unfair, David Davis, the Tory backbench MP, can see that it is unfair, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, can see that it is unfair, Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat MP, can see that it is unfair, the Daily Wail, Express and Daily Mirror can see that McKinnon's extradition is unfair, eighty-four Labour MP's can see that it is unfair. Andrew MacKinlay, the Labour MP for Thurrock, resigned partly in protest over McKinnon's extradition, so why can't Alan Johnson do the decent thing and halt it?

McKinnon's mother will have to relocate now to the USA, if she wants to see him again, should he be found guilty. Personally, if I was a judge, I would give McKinnon a ten-year suspended sentence, on the premise that if he does this again, he will be taken to the USA and made to serve 60 years in a normal jail, whilst at the same time, taking his condition should be taken into account.

I wonder if Johnson would have extradited McKinnon, had he hacked into German cyberspace, or Russian cyberspace, or Argentine cyperspace? When did the USA extradite the so-called Irish Americans in New York and Boston, who were funding the IRA? The UK government seems reluctant extradite genuine criminals or terrorists, but is happy to extradite an Autistic man who has neither bombed, shot, burned or injured anyone.

McKinnon has done the USA a favour, in a way, because he has exposed the comparatively easy access of their cyberspace, which they previously thought was impregnable. It obviously wasn't. Now, as a result, the USA can make it genuinely impregnable, and prevent any would-be terrorist or Al-Qaeda activist hacker from causing genuine damage, certainly damage which would be far more severe than what McKinnon caused.

If McKinnon is to be tried in the USA for what he allegedly did, then shouldn't those who maintained the security of the US cyberspace be also on trial, for negligence, as they made it possible for an Autistic computer hacker to be able to gain access?


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