back to article Home Secretary to decide on McKinnon extradition by October

The UK Home Secretary is due to decide by mid-October whether or not to order Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US, a hearing at the High Court heard on Tuesday. The hearing followed a decision by McKinnon and his legal team to decline to undergo a Home Office medical test by a doctor, Professor Thomas Fahy, whom McKinnon's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the last ten years of Mr McKinnon's life would easily qualify as "Cruel and unusual punishment".

    So against the English Bill of Rights (1689), and the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1787)

    AKA, let the guy try to rebuild and get on with his life. I think it safe to say he won't be doing anything like that again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is certainly cruel and unusual punishment for the people that have been reading about this apparently unending saga for the past 10 years - and all because a little boy wouldn't take his medicine. It's was political protest, no it is aliens, no it's the Arse Burglars...

      1. Titus Technophobe
        Thumb Down

        10 years

        Which at the end of the day have been as a consequence of McKinnon's attempts to evade court. He was offered a reduced sentence many years ago. If he is innocent he could have gone to defend himself likewise many years ago. His choice not to do either of the above leads me to one conclusion.

        I have to say that Asperger's or not almost anybody would be suicidal at the prospect of spending time in a US prison. That isn't a good reason for not sending them however.

        1. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge

          Re: 10 years

          Agreed. Same goes for that Assange character...Innocent? then no worries, just go and plead your innocence in court. Guilty? Man up and face the consequences of your actions.

        2. Mad Mike

          Re: 10 years

          The point here is not whether it is or isn't guilty of the crime, but what level of crime an extradition treaty should cover. Should speeding be an extraditable crime? What he did was embarrassing for the dimwits who ran the systems involved, but it was trivial on the crime scale. Embarrassment should never be part of the reason for an extradition. This crime never has been serious enough to warrant extradition and therefore he should have been prosecuted in this country and taken his punishment here.

          That would have saved 10 years and all the money, but NASA would then have to admit their stupidity, which is never going to happen. So, 10 years and many, many millions later, it's still going on. Stupidity. Sheer stupidity.

          1. Titus Technophobe

            Re: 10 years

            I believe if tried by the CPS in the UK McKinnon could face the possibility of a life sentence. The accusations suggest he didn't just attack NASA he deliberately attacked US defence establishments.

            I quote from -

            4. Once the computers were accessible by Mr McKinnon, he deleted data including:

            (1) Critical operating system files from nine computers, the deletion of which shut down the entire US Army's Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours, significantly disrupting Governmental functions [charges 1 to 3]

            (2) 2,455 user accounts on a US Army computer that controlled access to an Army computer network, causing those computers to reboot and become inoperable [charges 1 to 3]

            (3) Critical Operating system files and logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle, one of which was used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships. Deletion of these files rendered the Base's entire network of over 300 computers inoperable at a critical time immediately following 11 September 2001 and thereafter left the network vulnerable to other intruders [charges 8 to 10 and 11].

            This is but paragraph 4 of quite a big document which details additional offences, and evidence obtained to support the extradition.

            In summary the accusation is that Gary systematically gained access to and attacked US defense establishments. In doing so he left sufficient evidence that he had been there, and also downloaded files onto his own computer. Note US defense establishments, hence the request for his appearance in the US, and the stuff about NASA and UFO's is a cover story being promoted by his defense.

            Now then what proof have you got that, his crime was trivial (as in crime of which he is accused and partially admitted), that he only 'looked' at files, that he only accessed NASA computers, and he was just looking for UFO's?

            1. James Micallef Silver badge

              Re: 10 years

              Playing devil's advocate here, but just as there's only the defence's word that McKinnon was just poking around NASA looking for UFOs, we only have the word of the US prosecutors that any of that is true. And even if it IS true, that means that whoever 'secured' those systems must have been guilty of extremely serious derelicton of duty, and I haven't heard of anyone in the US being prosecuted / court-martialled for that.

              It's all fuzzy because it was so long ago but I seem to remember that at some point during the original trial, the US were making up fantastically over-the-top estimates of man-hours required to clean up after the hack, simply to add up to a dollar value in damages that would even allow extradition in the first place.

              1. Titus Technophobe

                Re: 10 years

                Well if you read the link above forensic analysis of McKinnon's computers in the UK confirm the allegations of the US prosecutors. As to your second point the guilt or not of others is irrelevant regarding the accusations leveled at McKinnon.

                There does seem to have been a lot of discussion on here about the cost of the damages, and indeed suggestions that much of the cost would be work that the victims should have done anyway. Bear in mind, one of the accusations is that the computers for an entire naval base were compromised. How much do you think this would cost?

                One place I worked when the computer was shut down the cost was estimated at £10,000 an hour. 24 hours quite easily gives you £240, 000...............

                1. James Micallef Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: 10 years

                  Thanks for expanding the explanation. I would agree 100% that whether anyone on the US side ever got persecuted for negligence has no bearing on McKinnon's innocence or guilt. The reason for my posing the question is that the absence of any steps taken against anyone in the US would give weight to the defence's argument that the prosecution/extradition is being pursued very heavily as a political / face-saving / finding a scapegoat, while if on the other hand some steps were taken towards the accountability of whoever was responsible for the security of the hacked systems (even if such steps were taken without any publicity), it would negate this argument.

                  Regarding cost, point taken if the hack was really extending o dozens of servers as seems the case, while many of teh reports I have read seem to indicate it was just a coupe of servers at NASA

                  1. Titus Technophobe

                    Re: 10 years

                    The defence's argument is just that, their argument for McKinnon's innocence (or at least an attempt to trivialise his offences). If you read the report of the High Court on the McKinnon's appeal against the extradition request it really doesn't add up with what has been reported by the popular media. Just as I have said above, the absence of any actions against people in US is also not even considered by the High Court, it isn't relevant to the allegations against McKinnon.

            2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

              Re: Re: 10 years

              ".....Now then what proof have you got that, his crime was trivial...." LOL! You seriously expect a McKinnon supporter to actually know what he got up to? They don't care, as long as they can bleat long and hard about the Evul Merkins.

  2. Lord Lien
    Big Brother

    Anyone else....

    .... wonder how much money the Lawyers have made out of this case by making it run this long?

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Anyone else....

      Not to mention how much public money has been wasted on a ridiculous attempt at extradition.

      1. Titus Technophobe
        Thumb Up

        Re: Anyone else....

        I entirely agree, in the event that he is extradited and found guilty, perhaps the McKinnon family should get the bill.

  3. PyLETS

    Sledgehammer meets nut

    Extradition is wholly innapropriate for an offence likely to receive a non-custodial sentence.

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: Sledgehammer meets nut

      The sad thing is the case categorically doesn't warrant a custodial sentence but McKinnon will receive a one if extradited.

      It's time this cruel farce ended.

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Re: Sledgehammer meets nut

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Sledgehammer meets nut

      Except the US view is that, if found guilty, he deserves a custodial sentence, and a very long one.

      While McKinnon has admitted doing something that he probably should not have - for which I think most would say a slap on the wrist would be in order - the US wants to hold him to account for something far more serious and he will inevitably be punished as such. I recall reading that if found guilty he could be facing 60 years imprisonment.

      What concerns me and others is that McKinnon won't be punished for what he has done, but will be punished as an example to others and as a scapegoat for failures which others should be taking responsibility for. That's not a fair trial, and no one should be subjected to that.

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Re: Sledgehammer meets nut

        and yet in the UK, and I quote again from '' -

        34. ..... At the same time he has tended to overlook the fact that, if prosecuted and convicted, the equivalent domestic offences include the offence under section 12 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

        To me it looks like he might get off with a lighter punishment in the US.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sledgehammer meets nut

          Sorry Titus, but "life" in the UK judicial system isn't more than the potential "60 years" in the US unless your surname is Kray, Hindley, Brady etc and you have taken part in some truly atrocious criminal acts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From what I've seen on documentary's, I think any possibility of jail time in the USA constitutes "Cruel and unusual punishment"

    But the key thing is he was in the UK when the crime was committed, so he should be tried here in the UK, it is as simple as that.

    The USA seems to think that their laws cover the planet, well it always appears that way..

    I have no problem with a FAIR extradition treaty, but only for serious crime, not a hacker looking for UFO's...

    1. Titus Technophobe

  5. Edward Clarke

    You KNOW the guy's never going to repeat the offence and the expense of extradition, a trial in the US, following all the legal wrangling in the UK is enormous. Have him give a public apology and drop the case. The fact that you let a UFO enthusiast break into your non-critical internet facing computers may be embarrassing but it's not worth the trouble to prosecute at this point.

    On the other hand, Asperger's syndrome by no means makes you a suicidal dimwit as his defense team is claiming. There are many people with this who lead quite successful, happy and independent lives. A sysadmin with an obsession on security and aspergers would be a wonderful employee indeed. Or an accountant with an obsession for numbers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "On the other hand, Asperger's syndrome by no means makes you a suicidal dimwit as his defense team is claiming."

      FWIW its recogized scientific experts who have experience of such concepts who have all stated that he would be at extreme risk of suicide, not lawyers. So unless you have better information then suggest you keep your dispertions to yourself.

      1. Anonymous Coward 101


        The idea that someone can get off with an alleged crime because they are threatening suicide is very dangerous. People with 'Antisocial Personality Disorder' (i.e. the person is a violent bastard) are more likely to top themselves but we don't make any special dispensation for them when arrested, and rightly so.

        Also, where were these 'scientific experts who have experience of such concepts' before now? Have they ever held forth about any other alleged criminal?

        1. BoldMan


          Who is saying ANYTHING about letting him off? This isn't a trial about whether he is guilty or not, this is a decision about WHERE he should stand trial. Try reading and comprehension sometime...

          1. Anonymous Coward 101


            "this is a decision about WHERE he should stand trial"

            Nope, it's about whether he should be extradited or not. He will not be put on trial in this country, therefore no extradition = letting him off.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      How well do you really know yourself?

      Test yourself, and maybe even surprise yourselves here ....... Aspergers Test

  6. Anonymous Coward 101
    Thumb Up

    To The Register

    Please copy and paste all the comments from a previous GMcK story so that everyone doesn't have to post exactly the same stuff that they posted before.

    Thank you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Theresa May or May Not

    Putting this off until the end of the year just leaves Mckinnon in limbo for even longer. This limbo feeling can feel even worse for someone with aspergers.

    Is there no Statute of limitations angle here?

    I must admit that I was sceptical about the aspergers excuse being thrown about in relation to hackers but having had fun with NASA servers in the past and now seeing a specialist for adhd/aspergers, it is now obvious that our brains are wired a little different which can often lead to an interest in the wrong side of IT security.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: Theresa May or May Not

      Do you understand that useing a system which you are not authorized is wrong?

      If yes, then you are responcible for your actions, and should stand trial for them.

      If no, then you incapible of judgement and need to instatutionalized, for your own protection as well as the protection of those around you.

      From everything I have heard, those with Asperger's fit into the first catagory, but I'm willing to defer to experts on the matter.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Theresa May or May Not

        [i]If yes, then you are responcible for your actions, and should stand trial for them.[/i]

        That's an extremely naive and simplistic view when the totality of the situation is far more complex.

        I don't like the procrastination of May and others, trying to balance holding up the Extradition Treaty with the US while recognising the problems in the McKinnon case, but thankfully it does show that there is at least recognition that it's no simple matter. I actually have a little sympathy with May in this case as she does seem to be trying not to do the wrong thing while constrained in having to support the Treaty politically and maintain the 'Special Relationship'.

        The best way out of it would be for the US to let the extradition drop, put the matter into the hands of British Judiciary but the problems with that are there might not be a way to do so, there may not even be a case to answer, he might not be found guilty of what is alleged and the punishment (if any) minor. That wouldn't suit the US so they keep pushing for extradition and trial in America.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. borrel boy

    Gary McKinnon and The Protection From Global Interests

    I hope you rethink the case over Gary McKinnon.

    I hope in light of the fact the the UK [not specifically] but other countries around the world would launch cyber attacks "against each other to protect their interests" ? - without ANY inference to anyone - think about "the ones who would do" such things and "think about" [ in the light of Gary McKinnon] "what would be" the outcome -

    The motto ? seems to be - Unless you've "express authorisation" to hack [and "you know what you're doing]" - DON'T DO IT !

    1. The Baron

      Re: Gary McKinnon and The Protection From Global Interests

      Apologies - I read this comment several times but I'm afraid I could make neither head nor tail of it.

      Help me out... are you FOR or AGAINST the extradition of Gary McKinnon?

  9. Jeebus

    This ridiculous show trial bullsh*t was supposed to die with the fall of USSR, seems the US takes what parts of dictatorial communism it like to oppress people of other nations and decries the rest.

    What would McCarthy think?, he'd love America in 2012. Imagine how bad it could get next year.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Timely Friendly Advice ..... so that All may know who is Accountable and Responsible

    "The motto ? seems to be - Unless you've "express authorisation" to hack [and "you know what you're doing]" - DON'T DO IT !" ..... borrel boy Posted Tuesday 24th July 2012 14:31 GMT

    Two things immediately spring to mind on reading that submission, borrel boy.

    Express authorisation to hack from whom, given the fact that status quo personnel are most unlikely to have any inkling about what goes on/is going on in the fields of which we might be speaking here and are not then qualified to offer either guidance or leadership, athough that will probably energise in them a covetous wannabe virtually savvy meme which can be cannily exploited by any and all who might know exactly what they are doing and what needs to be done.

    I trust that Ms May knows that the consequences of her not upholding Blighty's interests and instead servering to a unsophisticated foreign power indebted to the world for their tolerance of its ignorant arrogance, will be extreme and severe, for such a betrayal is no longer acceptable to ....... well, let is just call them, elite rank and file deployed and active in the field of virtual security and invisible protection.

  11. Peter Stone

    Should he really be extradited? I say no.

    I've always been slightly confused. As I recall the timeline, (from memory, & without consulting a pile of saved web pages), went something like this.

    2000 - 2001 Gary McKinnon carries out the hacking.

    2002 He's caught & confesses. The US government is asked if they want him prosecuted under UK law, (2 years inside and/or £5000 fine IIRC), they decline.

    2004 - 2005 The treaty is signed by David Blunkit, to allow the extradition of terrorists to the US. The US immediately apply for the extradition of Gary McKinnon, amongst others, using this treaty. None of them terrorists, at least as I understand the term.

    This is why I say he shouldn't be extradited, tried yes, but extradited for trial in the US, no.

    My other "moan" over all this, is that according to what I remember, most of the breaking into the computers happened using the systems default passwords This is despite Clifford Stoll writing the Cuckoo's Egg, 10 years previously, in which he details how the break-in's occurred - using defaut passwords! Was nothing learnt in the intervening years? (Other than by me? :) )

  12. Benjamin 4

    If you ask me anyone who does this should be given £1 million and told to get on with their lives. It would soon tighten up security on govt and military computers!

  13. James 100

    General principles

    As a general principle, I would like to see what the media persists in calling "hacking" resulting in custodial sentences, and trial in the country where the target computer was located. If someone were to shoot me from across the border* or mail me a parcel bomb from another country, I would want them extradited here to stand trial for it.

    I abhor the notion that breaking into and corrupting computers is somehow not a "real" crime, too, whether it was easy or not. Why should compromising a PC by guessing the password be regarded more lightly than breaking into someone's office by wiggling a credit card in the door?

    As for this particular case, having dragged it out for over a decade seems bonkers. To have gone on a tour of almost every court in the land, without even reaching the actual trial, just arguing over whether or not the trial should actually happen ... What on earth takes so long?! OK, the courts are busy places, but still, ten years?

    * This is actually one of the example cases on the CPS's website somewhere: supposing someone in Wales shoots somebody standing across the border in England, where does the trial take place? Oddly, the answer is not clear-cut, it's supposed to be determined by factors like the location of witnesses/evidence.

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Serial Loser is as Cuckoo in the No10 Downing Street Nest

    Everything has become quite interesting and highly entertaining on the express authorisation hacking front now that David Cameron's mates and right hand man [Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson] have been charged with a mirror offence.

    Poor ole Dave, he does seem to put his trust in some real unfortunate souls, doesn't he, which doesn't bode well for the country. No wonder Tory Party members are revolting. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be anyone in the party prepared to necessary, for the good of the country, which is probably why they didn't win the last election either.

    Indeed, a cuckoo in the No10 Downing Street nest is most apt. The greater madness though is, that the country is fool enough to accept it.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: A Serial Loser is as Cuckoo in the No10 Downing Street Nest

      Whoops, sorry, part of that should read .... Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be anyone in the party prepared to do the necessary for the greater good of the country, which is probably why they didn't win the last election either.

    2. Jeebus

      Re: A Serial Loser is as Cuckoo in the No10 Downing Street Nest

      Agreed, greedy bankers and lawyers attacking working people while hiding trillions themselves.

  15. borrel boy

    Gary McKinnon and The Protection From Global Interests

    Well "here's the deal"....I've had my computer hacked on loads of occasions...this year alone from 10 April 24 rebuilds/reinstallations. I don't know "what goes on in the minds of people's lives" who think they can "do what they like" with anyone or their equipment or who thinks they "can do what they like anywhere" -

    Put it this way : [not theoretically] - a man comes up to you and says "I'd like - to burgle your house" then you'd say "Hang on - you'll have to make an appointement. What time would suit you best" ?

    Not likely.

    The amount of inconvenience I've had through these intrusions have been phenomenal. Massive inconvenience.

    Don't do as you wouldn't want done. Any individual persons or any government organisations anywhere in the world thinking to carry out cyber attacks - against another individual or country just as Gary McKinnon "is said to have caused extensive damage to NASA computers" would be and should be "just as culpable".

    I can't walk into 10 Downing Street, The White House "or your house" and "do as I like". It's about respecting the space of another even if you beg to differ. Treat as you wish to be treated.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: Gary McKinnon and The Protection From Global Interests

      While I generally agree with you, I can't help but point this out...

      I couldn't read "I'd like - to burgle your house" without doing to the tune of "Whistling in the Dark" by They Might Be Giants.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Gary McKinnon and The Protection From Global Interests

      "I can't walk into 10 Downing Street, The White House "or your house" and "do as I like". It's about respecting the space of another even if you beg to differ. Treat as you wish to be treated." ...... borrel boy Posted Tuesday 24th July 2012 19:06 GMT

      The occupants of those two madhouses, 10 Downing Street and The White House, do exactly as you say you can't do, borrel boy. And it is easily done with Sublime IT and Media Mogul Manipulation for Future Beta Presentations of Alternate Realities/Breaking News. The abiding difficulty which causes them untold and mounting problems, is that they would appear to have no comprehensive and cogent idea about what they should be doing, and how they should be doing it, so that they can be treated as well as any friend might wish, in order to be welcomed into homes with their views/opinions/ideas/plans.

      And whenever Sublime IT and Media Manipulation Moguls are considerably more adept and skilled at the Mass Programming Art, and in Virtual Command and Control of the Release and Propagation of their Words which Lead to Deeds for which they are Liable and Responsible/Transparently Accountable, is it a Grand Folly to Challenge an Advanced Intelligence Program and Greater Game Players.

      cc Rupert M re New Spooky Beginnings with Refreshing Base Start-Ups ...... AIUpstarts.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    McKinnon should have been shipped to the U.S. ten years ago

    The friggin guy admitted hacking U.S. computers. There is no law that protects criminals from prosecution or extradition based on some illness other than insanity and he clearly is not insane.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Needs to marry better, maybe

    Extradition to the USA can be blocked.

    Look at the case of Shawn Sullivan, who has previous conviction for sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls in Ireland, and is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl and sexually molesting two 11-year-olds in Minnesota; described as one of the US's most-wanted alleged sex criminals.

    Shawn has had his extradition blocked just fine.

    By coincidence, and with no relevence to his judicial good luck, Shawn is married to Ministry of Justice policy manager Sarah Smith. They romantically Wed in Wandsworth Prison.

    1. Alfred 2

      Re: Needs to marry better, maybe

      Just read the mentioned article on the BBC website. So we will extradite anyone but sex offenders?

      *beats head on desk*

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Needs to marry better, maybe

      Whilst it is not a full punishment, it must be said that having seen the pic here ( of his missus I would have to say that being married to her probably constitutes a lifetime of cruel and unusual eyeball punishment. And as it looks like she's just trying to get back at her rich daddy I can't see the marriage lasting long, so maybe Mr Sullivan and Mr McKinnon can fly to the States together soon.

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