back to article Day dawns for Pentagon hacker Lords appeal

It's D-Day for accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon. Five law Lords are due to consider his appeal against extradition to the US in a hearing due to commence at 1100 BST on Monday. Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Master of the Rolls and third most senior judge in the UK, along with four other law Lords will hear arguments …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Barrie Shepherd

    Power of US

    Simple - he should be tried under in the UK under UK law, that’s where the offence was committed.

    The limited information, that is in the public domain, indicates that US are more embarrassed than hurt and want to make an example of someone.

    If the guy is in the US he has no hope of a fair trial as the US have already pronounced him guilty. He may have been stupid but something like 90 years in jail is stupider!

    UK Law should remain above that approach. If I have never been in the US then why should that government try to impose its law on me?

    I hope the Law Lords maintain the level of resistance that they have for many years held against political intervention.

  2. Walter Brown

    The US needs to just let go...

    Being an American myself, this story makes me sick, the shady tactics and blatant disregard of human rights by the prosecutors in this case are the very reasons why the US is in the state its in today. The US attorney's office need to just let go of this case and go bury its head in the sand, as this story makes me want to do, just for being American....

    mines the one with the brown paper bag in the pocket...

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Where was he?

    Then that's where the crime was commited.

    If I murder a US citizen over here, I get done for it over here, not extradited.

  4. Simon Painter
    Black Helicopters


    I thought we had safeguards against extraditions to despotic regimes with a history of torture and use of the death penalty? Will GM be shipped direct to Guantanamo Bay or will he go via one of those anonymous airbases on non US soil that the CIA use without asking?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If the Pentagon's computers are so secret, they shouldn't even be detectable on the public Internet.

    But if an amateur in another country can get into them, they should be grateful for the heads up. Instead of trying to shoot the messenger.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the US must try somebody

    let it be the people who left the passwords set to Password when it was their job to keep American military resources secure from bumbling sysadmins looking for aliens in their spare time.

  7. TrishaD


    He's broken US law, then the US have the right to attempt to proscecute.

    And to extradite....

    However, I wonder when the US are going to work out that intimidating foreign nationals and insisting on ludicrous sentences like 45 years isnt exactly helping their international stature as a civilised nation?

    I understand to some degree their obsession with national security but throwing this sort of stuff at some marginally socialised geek having a poke about a badly secured system is ludicrous......


    Where was he?

    Well, he compromised a US based server whilst sitting behind his desk in the UK.

    Clearly he committed the crime by being in two places at the same time and should be tried under the laws of quantum theory.

  9. Edwin

    @John Robson

    well, for the moment anyway

    (and don't forget George reserves the right to send the marines to fetch you)

    mine's the orange one with Camp Delta on the back

  10. Stu


    "Around the turn of the century a crack commando hacker wasn't sent to prison by the UK government for a US crime he did commit. This man promptly found himself up for extradition by the US Government, is likely to fail and will be extradited. Today, still wanted by the government, he survives as a l33t hacker of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire . . . Gary McKinnon".

    Duuh d duuuuhhh, duh duuuh duuuh.


    Mckinnon needs to get his ass into hiding asap. No chance of a reprieve from the old folks House of Lords.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    "He's broken US law, then the US have the right to attempt to proscecute. And to extradite.."

    I call bullshit. US law does NOT apply in the UK. It only applies to offences committed in the US. Where it was committed seems to be in doubt. That doubt alone should be reason not to extradite, but to try him in the UK instead - if, indeed, he has committed an offence under UK law at all.

    This is purely about the US attempting to oppose its will on sovereign states where it has no legal jurisdiction.

  12. Mathew White
    Thumb Down

    One way street.

    This would be an opportune moment to point out that america would never let one of its nationals be extradited to the UK for trial. So why should we be bullied by the states into sending someone over for a trial that I'm guessing isn't going to be entirely fair.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ....or get off the pot.

    The UK needs to decide if it's a country or a second rate US state with no voting powers.

  14. James O'Brien


    Dear god you owe me a keyboard. Its 9am here and I just spit coffee on it. Nice job on that

  15. Law

    RE: One way street.

    "So why should we be bullied by the states into sending someone over for a trial that I'm guessing isn't going to be entirely fair."

    Bullying implies unwilling participation - it's more a case of our willing politicians bending over and begging for it!!

    Personally - I think the US Gov should go whistle - it's our country, our laws, our people.... he should be hailed a hero as he probably opened their over-confident eyes to the fact they had idiots installing systems for them. In reality, he will get shipped out, Gwanto'd, and left to rot for doing something we've all done (the 'tested for default passwords' bit, not the 'tested passwords on US Gov servers looking for "aliens"' part).

    Aliens - because if you are honest, he looks alot similar to the icon... maybe he was trying to phone home??

  16. Stone Fox


    I think everyone has something to bring to this discusion, I think what you should bring is silence. :)

    If you want a perfect example of why you're talking utter, utter bollocks just look at the piratebay boys.

  17. Aron A Aardvark

    Good luck Gary McKinnon

    Let's hope the final court of appeal sees the gross injustice in a treaty which permits British citizens to be extradited to the USA with no evidence required. What kind of sham democracy permits such a mechanism? The second rate pseudo democracy that is the UK. Shame on all the MPs who approved of such a despicable treaty.

    And shame on the US DoD and NASA for preaching a mantra of 'national security' when you can't even be bothered to establish the most basic of network security procedures. You only have yourselves to blame for that one. You're just lucky it was Gary McKinnon who exposed your unbelievable security lapses and not an unfriendly foreign power.

    Or am I being naive here and the US DoD and NASA were entrapping would-be hackers by not using passwords et al? Hmmmm.

    PS: wouldn't mind seeing those great big UAP pix that McKinnon apparently saw at Building 8 of the JPL..

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "He's broken US law, then the US have the right to attempt to proscecute. And to extradite.."

    I probably break some US law every time I use my roll of Stars 'n' Stripes (George Bush commemorative edition) arsewipe in anger. However, using the US flag to get rid of the clingy bits does not contravene UK law.

    If he's broken UK law, he should be tried here.

  19. Oliver

    Poor Bastard!

    I pity this guy. I can't believe the erosion of sovereignty in the UK has resulted in a situation where there is even a remote possibility that this guy could be extradited. It must be a scary scary day when your government will consider handing you over to such a brutal and unnaccountable regime on such a flimsy premise.

    National security is important but there seems to be little suggestion that he was acting out of malice - and the sentence he looks like facing seems monstrously disproportionate. Shame on the US authorities, shame on the UK government, shame on the courts.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ everyone

    In the early '60s near where I lived a US airman murdered an English bar maid and fled to the US airbase where he was stationed.

    NOT only did the USAF refuse to hand him back, he was put into a US Military Police car driven to RAF Northolt and placed on a US plane which then flew him home. All this in sight of the British Police who could do nothing!!

    AC 'cos I'm taking the family to the States for a holiday soon

  21. Eponymous Cowherd


    ***"He's broken US law, then the US have the right to attempt to proscecute. And to extradite.."***

    I assume you believe the same should apply to people who break Chinese, Iranian, Zimbabwean, North Korean or Burmese law?

    Any particular reason why you think the Merkins would be any more likely to give McKinnon a fair trial than those countries?

  22. David Pollard

    Wasn't he lured?

    If I remember correctly and have the story right, the guy stumbled into some sort of honeypot which was showing movies to promote the idea of UFOs. Myself I find UFO stories a bit boring, but wouldn't anyone with a penchant for the lure be inclined to follow it up?

  23. Aodhhan


    So many arm chair judges.

    There are many types of crimes which can be committed from a far. Stop and THINK for a moment, and you just might come up with a few.

    Jurisidiction normally falls with the court where the damage actually occured.

    The fact he hacked into the Pentagon isn't the only issue. Its the fact he was caught hacking into a computer system at all. The Pentagon finds it easier to track hackers than small mom and pop operation.

    The law doesn't require you to protect your property in any manner. So the administrators lack of skill in configuration means nothing. You don't need a fence on your property to prosecute someone for trespassing.

    The next time you defend a hacker. Think about one getting into your system; Secretly downloading a bunch of child pornography on your computer. THen to be really mean, he contacts the authorities and lets them know you collect child porn... while he silently uses your email account to send some out to everyone on your contact list.

    Oh darn... he's in Russia... so you are screwed!

  24. david wilson


    >>"The next time you defend a hacker. Think about one getting into your system; Secretly downloading a bunch of child pornography on your computer. THen to be really mean, he contacts the authorities and lets them know you collect child porn... while he silently uses your email account to send some out to everyone on your contact list.

    Oh darn... he's in Russia... so you are screwed!"

    That's an outrageously bogus comparison, with a scenario about as far as it's possible to get from what McKinnon seems to have done.

    In any case, in your example, the victim would be no more screwed if the hacker was in Russia than if they were in Ruislip

    The country of origin of the hacker, or the ability to prosecute them wouldn't much matter, since the victim's reputation/liberty depends not on whether anyone else is punished, but on whether the hacking could/would be detected after the event such that the victim can be shown not to be to blame.

    Somehow, I'd imagine that if all someone's contacts did get emailed child porn from their email account, with or without an anonymous tip-off being sent to the authorities, thoughts of a set-up would be a fairly obvious possible explanation even *before* the victim had denied being involved and computer forensics begun.

  25. John Bayly


    Sorry mate, but that's bollox. Let's compare what he did to what's being happening over here with classified documents being left on trains.

    He found computers on the internet = Person found document on trains

    The admin password was blank = The envelope was unsealed

    He searched for Alien Tech = Person had a flick through to find anything juicy

    Do you believe that the person that handed to documents to the press should be charged with damaging the government and given the maximum possible sentance? Do you also believe that the person who left the papers on the train is completely free of guilt?

    Anyhow, to be prosecuted for trespass, you need to prove that damage was done. The extradition papers specifing the charges are laughable. Somehow he managed to case $3,000 worth of damage to every computer, do you really believe that?

    Granted, he was in the wrong, and I think his reasons are ridiculous, but this is taking the piss.

    Regarding "defending the hacker", if I left the systems in work as open as the US DOD did (does?) it would be (as somebody else mentioned) a charge of gross negligence and my P45.

    Christ, personally I think it's difficult to even descibe it as hacking when you don't even need to use a dictionary attack, but just press Enter when prompted for a password.

  26. Lee Whitfield


    First of all, most people on here are assuming he is telling the truth. If you were in his position would you be entirely truthful or not? Let's face it, regardless of his intentions he confesses to breaking the law.

    Second of all, if you look at our own law here in England - especially the computer misuse act, you see that any crime committed against computer systems here are considered to be punishable here regardless of where the attack came from. US law is much the same. However this does not mean that other countries have to abide by this ruling unless certain treaties are in place - unfortunately for McKinnon such treaties ARE in place between Britain and the US so unless he can get this overturned there is nothing he can do.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    His Argument

    Is mainly that the plea bargain process was essentially a coercement for him to be extradited and therefore illegal in accordance with Cobb vs USA (2001) which found coercing someone into extradition is an infringement of human rights. Personally, I hope he wins his case since it is the only way to persuade the US prosecutors that the blackmail they use in plea bargaining cannot stand outside their tin-put excuse for a free country. Plea bargaining is basically a way to save costs of trials. In the UK, if someone pleads guilty, they gain credit for sentencing, but that credit is strictly limited. In the US it is purely up to the prosecution and defence about what credit you gain for a plea bargain, so routinely it is taken to extremes to try and make it close to impossible for someone to refuse it, whilst at the same time resulting in overly lenient sentences for real criminals. When you get someone who has committed a murder, they are routinely told by prosecutors that if they plead not-guilty, the prosecution will go for the death penalty, but if they go guilty, they will be prosecuted for manslaughter, get 10 years and be out in 5. The innocent will consider taking that, despite their innocence, and the guilty get away with murder. It is nothing more than blackmail.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022