Friday, 7 August 2009

Gary McKinnon

This is a picture of the most recent twitter users who have joined the campaign to Free Gary McKinnon.


British citizen Gary McKinnon is in the last stages of his "fast track" extradition to the USA. Its over seven years since his initial arrest, Gary was indicted by a US court in November 2002, accused of "hacking" into over 90 US Military computer systems from here (in the UK). The unjust treatment of British citizens (and others) when facing the might of the US Military "justice" system, which practices detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, and stands accused of making use of torture by allied regimes ("extraordinary rendition") is an ongoing scandal. It cannot be excused even by a "war on terror". It seems only just that Gary should face any charges in a British court, and to serve any sentence, if he is found guilty, in a British prison.

Where is the reciprocity on extradition? The 2003 Extradition Act has created an imbalance between the conditions by which a UK citizen may be extradited to the US and the conditions on which a US citizen can be extradited to the UK, making it easier to extradite people from the UK than from the US. If the US, or indeed any country in Europe and the Commonwealth, seek extradition from the UK they need only to make an allegation and have a warrant for their arrest. But while across European and Commonwealth countries there is reciprocity in extradition procedures, Constitution provisions within the US system state that another country has to have evidence of the crime for which the person is being extradited.

Gary hacked into a computer in the USA, and has denied causing any damage, arguing that he accessed open, unsecured machines, and disputes the financial loss claimed by the US as concocted in order to create a dollar amount justifying an extraditable offence. While it did not constitute evidence of destruction, he did admit leaving a message on one computer: "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.” The authorities should have hired him to teach them how to protect themselves.

If he is extradited to the US and charged, McKinnon faces up to 70 years in jail and has expressed fears that he could be sent to Guantanamo Bay.

Many have now voiced their support including more than 40 MPs including David Cameron, Sting, Trudie Styler, Julie Christie, David Gilmour, Graham Nash, Boris Johnson (Mayor of London), Stephen Fry, Terry Waite, Tony Benn, Chris Huhne, Lord Carlile, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party of England and Wales, the National Autistic Society, Liberty and many others. All of these propose that, at least, he should be tried in the UK.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has insisted that he does not have the power to halt Mr McKinnon's extradition. But Mr Hain, the Secretary of State for Wales, last night criticised the way the Government had handled the case, saying that it should have been referred to Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide on possible charges in a “British context”.

Janis Sharp, Mr McKinnon's mother, immediately criticised the Home Secretary for making the apparent link to the September 11 attacks. "I was very disappointed because not only is he (Mr Johnson) trying not to stand up for Gary's rights, he actually is trying to incriminate him by talking about 9/11 and all the people that died and then mentioning Gary's name," she said. "I don't expect him to actually be doing America's job, I expect him to be standing up for British citizens." She admitted her son's actions had been "very stupid" and "ludicrous", but repeated her call for him to be tried in Britain. "Gary's never said he should get off or he shouldn't face up to what he's done," she said. "He should be tried here. If they (the Government) want to, they could quite easily stop this extradition." "Obama wouldn't have this. He doesn't want the first guy extradited for computer misuse to be a guy with Asperger's, a UFO guy. He wouldn't want this."



With regret this shows the total lack of discretion of the 2003 Act and lack of 'balls' by the Labour government.

Gary McKinnon went no nearer to America than Palmers Green which, the last time I looked, is in Britain.

howard thomas said...

Well said Gideon Mack.
This government lacks balls and at the same time usually talks bollocks!
It would be quite absurd to allow the USA to take this man accross the Atlantic by way of a one sided treatry that is supposed to deal with terrorism!
What Gary MacKinnon did can not be considered as terrorism by any stretch of the imagination