back to article Only 'unlawful threats' would invalidate McKinnon extradition

The Law Lords have published their reasons for rejecting the extradition appeal of accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon. In a ruling published on Wednesday morning, five Law Lords turned down an appeal that aggressive tactics adopted by US authorities during negotiations with McKinnon constituted an abuse of the process. In …


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  1. Dave Edmondston
    Thumb Down

    The good ol' US of A...

    "...a total time behind bars of two years. Oppose us and you'll get eight to 10 years or more in a US high-security prison with the potential of just 15 per cent off for good behaviour."

    Fuck 'em.

    Third world justice system which gives more gravity to getting a conviction than the seriousness of the crime.

    The same crowd of pirates that keeps un-tried suspects in Cuba for over 5 years.

    ...and the UK establishment bends over for them every time.

  2. Jonathan

    Poor guy...

    He hacked into their systems without too much trouble, caused them huge embarrassment when they were forced to admit they did not know the meaning of the word "security", and now they want to make an example of him.

    In all likelihood, whether he agreed to extradition of not, he would probably mysteriously find his way to Gitmo.

    I'm not saying I agree with that he did - hacking is still a crime. I just dont see why he cant be tried over here, and why the we cant extradite US criminals over here, but they can take British citizens.

    We must be the next star on the American flag.

  3. Nomen Publicus
    Thumb Down

    Equal Before The Law?

    First, we really need to find the civil servants who did not ensure that the treaty contained words to the effect that it would only become effective after both sides ratified it. These people should be fired.

    Second, we can only hope that some European court has a better developed set of ethics and gives the spineless UK government a good bollocking.

  4. Nano nano

    Whatever happened to those IRA guys

    that the US wouldn't hand over ?

    Just asking.

  5. John Robson Silver badge

    So the treaty isn't in force

    Surely an appropriate time for to get something out of

    Until that treaty is in force we ain't following it.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Curse the f***ing fascist bastarsds to hell and worse

    I don't know which is worse, that the americunts are doing this or that their poodles in the UK system are letting it happen. By hob our grandparents fought a world war to oppose this kind of regimen and now our governments are complicit in travesty such as this. These bastards would do well to remember who actually runs all the computers that run their everything. Why is there no I.T. workers union to threaten to turn off EVERYTHING if this goes through ? Every fucking thing. Traffic lights. Power stations. Trains. Banks. It we were organized, we would be in charge. We fucking well run everything for them. Every scrap of infrastructure with a chip in it. Everything. We should collectivize and look after our own by threatening that not one bit or byte will move in the UK or US until this is reversed. This is an attempt at cultural genocide against hacker culture, nothing less.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "...many foreign friendly states with whom the UK has entered into reciprocal extradition arrangements."

    But our arrangements with the US are NOT reciprocal???

    I think that KcKinnon is being treated very harshly to cover US blushes, but who's paying for all this legal malarkey?

    Paris, because she would recognise real reciprocation and have the dosh to pay for her own briefs.

  8. Daren Nestor
    Thumb Up

    And they're right

    It's kinda irrelevant whether or not the US has ratified the extradition treaty, the UK has, and they intend to abide by it.

    Frankly the appeal was on the wrong grounds - they focused on the plea bargaining which (while strongarm-ish) is offering a possible reduction in maximum sentence if he spares the expense of a trial, something that happens in the UK also so there's no problem there.

    What he should have focused on, and what might have swayed the Law Lords, is that it has not been confirmed what court he'll be tried in, whether it will be civil or military. This is altogether a more serious grounds for protesting the extradition. I mean, he's admitted he did it and whatever his motives they have to assume the worst happened and computers were compromised. He's effectively pled guilty, it's wrangling over jurisdiction now. A guarantee of a civil court and a high likelihood of low security and repatriation seems fair to me. Regardless of the US military's incompetence in securing their own networks. A military court is an altogether different affair.

  9. P. Lee
    Black Helicopters

    plea bargain

    10 years max security vs 6-12 months low security?

    A "discount" for saving trial costs is one thing but this is intimidation. If he's so dangerous that 10 years in max security is reasonable, then how can 2 years in low security be acceptable? Conversely, if 2 years is reasonable, 10 years in max security surely has to be unsuitable to the point of immorality, as well as a waste of money.

    Its probably not the law lords call, but I would block all extradition until the US has ratified the treaty. Better yet, scrap extradition and make the US prosecute the case through the UK courts and pay for the process and any resulting prison costs.

    Black helicopters - just because you can't hear them, doesn't mean they aren't coming for you!

  10. Seán

    Ho ho ho

    Isn't it fantastic to see how readily a subject can be disposed of. Try being citizens, it's a lot harder to dispose of citizens. Still the EU will once again undo the disgraceful toadying of the UK legal system to politicians and of course their US master race.

    People who wear wigs and like to be spanked as a result of a culture of sodomy in boarding schools and inbreeding shouldn't really be in charge of anything never mind the liberty of real people. This constant subservience to the knuckledraggers in the US doesn't benefit the UK one iota. Constantly attempting to derail the EU and spying on EU citizens for their US masters isn't really making friends either. I'm sure it'll be looked back on as a kind of generational PTSD after WWII but all those fossils are dead now so why does this subservience continue on into the 21st century? Is it just typical WASP xenophobia, or is it just that the "special relationship" was always just a joke as far as the US was considered and admitting that would be too embarrassing for the UK.

  11. Blinkstr

    Wow @ Sean

    It's a little odd how we in the US are 'knuckledraggers' when something like this comes up, but when EU needs help resolving a problem (sometimes with force) we in the US seems to be the first people you scream for.

    How about the next time France gets invaded we just let you deal with that.

  12. g e

    Special Relationship

    No points for guessing who spends their time willfully 'receiving' in this particular romance...

    UK should just fully join Europe outright... getting so sick of living in a Western European 51st (or however many) State of the Americaland... beginning to feel like a UK 'Israel' to the Mainland Europe 'Arab States'

    Yes I CAN emigrate to the inevitable 'so move then' response... please forward your cheques to complete my kids' education while I'm in France until they're old enough to do what they like too.

  13. Ladislav

    this is fun...

    Firstly, those little bit familiar with Network security would agree that more appropriately - the responsible managers at the networks McKinnon hacked into should be charged for due-diligence. I don't know if anyone ever tried this, but I would counter sue the government organizations in question as accomplices to the crime.

    If you leave your Mercedes open, with keys in the ignition in South Central, you would probably be a very stupid citizen if you were surprised that it got stolen. If you'd however left your neighbor's car in the same situation, your intentions would _at least_ be questioned.

    In either case, car theft (especially if the car is open and has keys in the ignition) is a minor offense. It is more likely that curious kids will steal it and not a professional car thief. (Yes, you can lock up curious kids to a maximum security prison for 10 years - lets see how that will fly).

    Whatever the reasons are for leaving of an unlocked expensive car of your neighbor in South Cantral before it got stolen, I am sure that your neighbor will hold you responsible and not the car thief. The neighbor is "US Citizens" and their data (the expensive car) got stolen - because you left it unlocked in an 'easy to steal' manner in the South Central.

    For all I know, maybe someone got fed up with his Mercedes and left it there for someone interested.

    A reasonably good lawyer can beat this case in the US jury court in a heartbeat. That is - the data of the US citizens are according to the allegations relatively available to access from external networks without intruder being noticed for a good while.

    It is near to impossible (or at least extremely difficult) today to exploit a well secured network. I seriously doubt Mr. McKinnon's ability to perform such sophisticated network penetration, giving the simple fact - he got caught. This fact also supports my assumption that security hole(s) he exploited were exploited by luck and not knowledge.

    It is a human nature to be curious and provided that Mr. McKinnon is a curious kid and not a professional car thief (I simply assume that such is the case as he also did not profit out the network breach), a slap on the wrist of Mr. McKinnon while firing those responsible for the network security seem rather appropriate.

    Secondly, I have read lot about this case, yet I wonder what data have the prosecutors provided to proof that Mr. McKinnon breached the network and what damage he exactly caused. I mean, calling those responsible for network security on the stand could proof hilarious. They have likely breached their own corporate policies and thus allowed this to happen in the first place (hence they are accomplices).

    All the fun aside, I must point to the stupidity of Mr. McKinnon as well. If you break the law either make sure you wont get caught, or stop whining after you do - or don't break the law in the first place. No pity from my side, although I do think that your current legal representation is responsible for a big part of the situation you are currently in.

    And btw. what the fuck is "the house of lords"? Do you have to kneel once you are granted an audition? Damn, do we live in the 21st century!!!???

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Seán

    'People who wear wigs and like to be spanked as a result of a culture of sodomy in boarding schools and inbreeding shouldn't really be in charge of anything never mind the liberty of real people. '

    So if judges aren't to decide the application of the law, who should? Politicians? The Jeremy Kyle audience?

  15. David Neil

    @ Blinkstr

    "How about the next time France gets invaded we just let you deal with that."

    As I recall from my history you did, and only the determined efforts of a President to lead the majority by the nose into "armed neutrality" made any difference.

    IF the Japanese hadn't miscalculated in the Pearl Harbor attack and instead concentrated on the European colonies in SE Asia then the US most likey wouldn't have entered the war at all.

    P.S. Thanks for the post war loan, we paid it off just over a year ago

  16. John

    this was on the radio...

    ...someone asked why the Pentagon was on the innertubes.

  17. David Barr
    Thumb Up

    He should be sent

    Our elected government makes the laws and diplomatic agreements for the country, unless it's a truly exceptional case then those laws should be followed. I don't think this is exceptional or unexpected.

    I do however doubt the wisdom of entering into this agreement without parity from the US. And I also doubt if the US would be so willing to follow the letter of the law if the position was reversed.

    From the outside it would also appear that in the UK we do not apply the leverage we have to ensure that British interests are maintained while dealing with the US. We do seem to have given much and received little.

    Thumbs up, as if he was a Gladiator in Roman times and I was the Emperor telling the US to finish the job.

  18. Steen Hive


    "How about the next time France gets invaded we just let you deal with that."

    Next time France gets invaded we probably won't even know about it because you lot have murdered all the journalists like you did Terry Lloyd.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Hey Yanks !

    You'll be all speaking Chinese in a few years and the Arabs will be making you dance for oil. Oh and yes Putin will be pulling moonies at you too.

    Empires rise and fall - ask the British and the Italians !

    PS you don't need to water board/torture your enemies, just make them watch some recent Hollywood releases !

    PPS Isn't just the threat of Gary having to go to America and eat a McDonald's punishment enough ?

  20. roger

    @ Blinkstr

    The next time France gets invaded the invading country had better have some deep tunnels.

  21. ShaggyDoggy

    Can't wait

    ... until a US citizen is found hacking UK MOD computers, and the Uk asks for his extradition

  22. john doe


    what the courts decide, or if there is a court; Americans get what Americans want. If not at court with a black helicopter.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "How about the next time France gets invaded we just let you deal with that."

    I don't think we'll have the money to hire you lot next time.

    Renting the US military bankrupted an empire.

    BTW Can't the guy be tried in Britain, he's broken our law too if he did it?

  24. ShaggyDoggy

    .. oh and one last thing

    Where's the original McKinnon article gone, together with all its comments ?

  25. ShaggyDoggy

    Chinese whispers

    And while we're at it, where's the China Olympic Internet Access article gone ?

    Have you lot been getting 'unlawful threats' as well ?

  26. Simon Williams


    Why would a US citizen be aware of countries outside of the US ? let alone be aware that other countries have access to the internet.

    blinkered eyeware, for those across the big blue wet thing.

  27. Doug Glass


    If you're going to be dumb; you better be tough.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @ Blinkstr

    "How about the next time France gets invaded we just let you deal with that."

    I'm not sure that France has any oil... so you lot probably wouldn't fucking bother anyway!

  29. Anonymous Coward

    All ur subjects are b3long t0 US

    Says it all really. Think I'll move to France. Weather and food are better there too. Their language is a bit weird but the yanks have buggered ours anyway.

  30. steogede


    >> If you leave your Mercedes open, with keys in the ignition in South Central, you would

    >> probably be a very stupid citizen if you were surprised that it got stolen. If you'd however

    >> left your neighbor's car in the same situation, your intentions would _at least_ be

    >> questioned.

    Expensive Car? Unlocked? South Central LA? I think a more likely analogy would revolve around a pub, boozing, civil servant, laptop.

    I have to say, it seems very much like the guys in charge of these military systems did the network security equivalent of posting CDs using Royal Mail second class.

  31. Chris


    It makes me smile to see so many getting all riled up.

    I agree that this is a travesty of justice. The Americans have already made veiled allusions to this chap having already been found guilty. Even if he had surrendered and agreed to the deal, there is no guarantee that the Americans would have stuck to their side of the bargain. McKinnon would have disappeared into Gitmo, there would have been a few seconds on the news when his supporters raised their voices, and that would have been it- gone for good, another political casualty in the games of the rich and powerful.

    I am convinced that the UK and US governments are actively engaged in a scheme to reduce their citizens to the status of drones. Those that have money will put their children through private schooling and ensure they get into the upper flight of society, all from the safety of their ivory towers.

    The drones on the other hand will be told that the schools are achieving the best scores ever, while they fail to even notice that their children can barely spell their own names, or string together enough words to make an intelligible sentence. They will 'enrich' their lives with Eastenders and Jeremy Kyle from the safety of their barricaded tenement while the local yoof engage in open warfare on the streets outside. All the time, what money they can earn is leached away from them in an effort to heat, clothe and feeds themselves at an ever-increasing cost while the oil and energy company shareholders throw glitsy 'record-profits' parties with their 'celebrity' friends.

    And all of this will play out to the soundtrack of the disgruntled murmurings of the educated few like us, who, through ironic misfortune, are not blinded by the smoke and mirrors and can see where we are headed but are impotent to intervene.

    We are gradually being reduced to the status of cattle or sheep, and our purpose is to keep the consumer cycle running as fast and for as long as possible so that those at the top of the tree can sustain their little empires. We will soon be back to feudal ways where we, the peasants, will be at the mercy of our lords and masters.

    This decision is only one in a long catalogue of injustices that indicate that the law is no longer about fairness, but more about political manoeuvring and power. It is certainly not there for our benefit.

  32. Sillyfellow


    it seems to me that this is far more than just a case of hacking and IT security..

    it is ALSO a matter of what it is he actually found... which is reportedly a lot of evidence of USA gvt/military doctoring photos, satellite images etc to remove ufos that appear in them. so they can keep on denying that ufo's even exist...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    "Not comparable with homosexual rape" indeed not. The threats made by the Yanks in this case far MORE sinister than the old "you know what they get up to in prison, don't you?"

    From what I've read the American "authorities" have publicly told Mr McKinnon that he's going to "fry" (an obvious reference to the electric chair - they still electrocute people to death in that country) and labelled him a "terrorist".

    Perhaps his Lordship is unaware of the way the Yanks treat people they've dubbed "terror suspects". If he'd like to pop 'round, I'd be happy to offer him a cup of tea, spot of "waterboarding" and maybe a little genital electrocution, for his edification of course. Perhaps we could all club together to buy him a one way flight to an exciting mystery destination somewhere in E. Europe, Israel or N. Africa? Apparently Guantanamo and Abu Graib are not the destinations they used to be.

    Geneva Convention? Ha - doesn't apply in US torture camp x.

    Vienna Convention? Nope, formally reneged on that one.

    You're screwed McKinnon, better don the asbestos underpants and brace yourself.

    I didn't know it legal to extradite someone to a regime where they could face execution or torture, let alone one which is openly threatening it. What a disgusting betrayal of this man by his own government.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    good poodle! nice poodle!

    "...say what you like.

    it doesn't change anything

    coz the corridors of power

    they're an ocean away..."


    "51st state" [new model army]

    they dinnae write them like that any more! [actually, they're probably not allowed to. it's likely classed as 'terrorism' to criticise our colonial masters, these days]

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    For Blinkster

    Dont get me started on WW2. America seems to forget that it stayed out of it for a long time, and refused to intervene many times, history seems to have glossed over that part. Few over there seems to know that it was only after lengthy exposure to film footage showing children and teenagers in defensive trenches did they finally get involved. I think knuckle draggers is harsh though.

    By the way France isnt in the UK ;)

    As for the hacker, well he did the crime, even if his motives werent malicious, he should do the time. However we should extradite no-one until the agreement goes both ways. Until then, tell them to bog off.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    You're all going to fry

    I hope you lot all realise that El Reg's servers are located in the US of A ...and that those of you have said bad things about God's own country have also broken US law using computers situated in the US?

    Looks like a few Reg readers will be joining Mr McKinnon on his little sojourn to Gitmo.

  37. ian

    "Nations have no friends, only interests."

    Currently, it is in the UK's interest to be attached to the U.S. The Spanish have an apt saying: "it's better to be a lion's tail than to be a mouse's head". Keep in mind that Britain is no longer mistress of the seas with an empire upon which the sun never sets, and is coasting on the wealth that empire extracted from subjugated peoples.

  38. RRRoamer


    And you seem to forget that it was the UK and France that directly caused WWII by the way they treated Germany after WWI. The fact that the average US citizen was sick of spending our blood and money to keep Europe from killing each other is fairly understandable. The toll in WWI was pretty high.

    And what exactly did the US do to cause WWI? Oh, wait! We didn't have a damn thing to do with it.

    And after we DID finish WWI for you, you set Germany up so that the average German citizen would be willing to drink the blood of any UK or French child. Of course, they might have to just to stay alive... Don't forget how your "enlightened" European leaders basically polished Hitler's knob until he was ready to try and take on the world.

    So yes, we stayed out of YOUR fucking mess until the Japanese were stupid enough to directly attack the USA. What a surprise.

    I find it amusing when I see the very same people that are pissing and moaning that the US didn't intervene in WWII soon enough are also the same people that keep saying we had no right to intervene in Iraq.

    If I was in charge here, most of you would be initially much happier. I would embark on a program to make the US totally energy independent, close all of our overseas military bases and pull our people and hardware back home. Then I would set out to build the best missile defense possible.

    The US would be at home minding our own business and the rest of you could take care of your own shit. Or roll around in it if that is what you wanted to do.

  39. Steve

    @ RRRoamer

    "So yes, we stayed out of YOUR fucking mess until the Japanese were stupid enough to directly attack the USA. What a surprise."

    By "stayed out of your mess" I assume you're referring to the way that your country invested heavily in Germany during the lead up to the war and basically provided all of the steel that they needed for their tanks. You basically *caused* our mess.

    Thanks a lot.

    In case you're wondering, it was GWBs grandad and his bank..

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Russians...

    ...were the ones who actually sorted out the mess.

    WW2 was won and lost on the eastern front, everything else was a sideshow.

  41. heystoopid

    But then again

    But then again if his legal team can assemble assorted and virtually dispersed data on prison assaults , hard/soft core drugs, alcohol abuse, rapes , murder , under age prostitution at many female and male juvenile detention centres and every other travesty known to man committed by both the prison guards and inmates upon each other or any other fellow male or female inmate and show the world that the wankee prisons are far more dangerous on the inside then on the outside in the evil city streets like Baltimore or the Russian Mafia section of New York would he not have a case that "Human Rights Abuse" exceeds the permitted limits as outlined in the assorted Euro Treaties signed to paper thus far ?

    I believe not all that long ago the Norwegian Supreme Court overturned a US extradition order because the US Prison Authorities were unable to issue any formal ironclad unconditional guarantee regarding the absolute safety of the wanted man in any US State or Federal Penitentiary to the much stricter European Standards where he was to be rehoused or that they are in formal compliance with local laws either !

  42. marc bolan

    Good 'Ol hell.

    "And what exactly did the US do to cause WWI? Oh, wait! We didn't have a damn thing to do with it".

    I'll tell you shall I?

    The Rockerfeller Institute, and the bush family, funded the war machines on both sides throughout WW11.

    Doesn't anyone ever fucking wonder how a country like Germany, after the mess of WW1, could assemble an army capable of taking on most of Europe and Asia.

    Wake up people, and get the KY out, your yankee "brothers" have a present for you...

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legal question - where was the crime commited?

    Where he was when he committed the crime or where the crime was affected?

    I am not a lawyer, so this is a serious question for my own edification.

    It seems to me that the answer has important implications - especially when extradition is involved!

    Take a completely unrelated hypothetical situation:

    - Country A creates a law against some sort of action

    - Country B does not have a similar law, but does have an extradition treaty with Country A.

    - Person C, a citizen and resident of country B who has never ever set foot in country A, commits the action outlawed by Country A (and through modern technology it affects inside country A).

    Person C has never been to country A, was not in country A when the action was performed, and did not break any laws in Country B, so did they commit a crime at all (I'm sure Country A believes so - but this is a legal question)?

    Should Country A be allowed to extradite Person C?

    Should Country A only be allowed to prosecute if Person C actually sets foot inside Country A?

    When thinking about your answer - keep this in mind - Country A as a sovereign nation could at any time change their laws to create and enforce a law that my be morally repugnant to Country B.

    Also what if Country B did have a similar law - should Person C face local prosecution (Country B's legal system) or extradition for prosecution in Country A?

    I don't have the legal answers to these questions, but I'd certainly like to know.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    You are all so right

    The US bashers here are so right. Everything bad that has happened in the world, WWII, modern oil economy, degradation of human rights, everything is the fault of the US. Not just the US, but each and every one of the now 300 million Americans individually is responsible for everything bad that has ever happened. Doesn't matter if they weren't born yet, doesn't matter if they oppose it but happen to live in the country anyway. It's much easier to trash the entire country.

    An old post once pointed out that every country gets bashed around, especially the largest/strongest/richest. There's giving a country a hard time, and there is labeling it as the root of all evil, and everyone in it "Americunts" or whatever the next brilliant witticism is.

    Surely everyone knows the UK is a better place, after all the CCTV network makes it safer. France's ecomony is a model of sustainability, and how could you find a more open and fair country than Russia? Europe, of course, has all the answers, particularly with a brilliant rotating presidency to ensure clear leadership and efficient burocracy.

    Here's a radical concept; countries are full of a bunch of people, often a lot like you. Often their leaders, elected or otherwise, are mediocre, sometimes they are quite good, sometimes they are a blight on humanity. Every country has at least something good to offer, and also something that is best left out of the human experience.

    If the comments sections is just a place for the ill-informed, narrow-minded, and bigoted to air their "opinions", then what purpose do they serve? They certainly don't add to what is usually intelligent articles in El Reg.

  45. Aitor

    re: Blinkstr

    Ahem.. you did leave the uk and france alone. Both world wars, for YEARS. You fought just when the europeans where almost defeated and you had their money in your banks.

    Lend lease? You just SOLD equipment to the UK.. a big, huge money making, empire dissolving bussiness.

    Sweden and switzerland also sold military equipment (to the axis), and they are not considered part of the axis.. so why should the us be considered part of the allies before commiting troops?

    As for judging someone in the US for doing something in the UK.. well, it is just not right.

  46. Aitor
    Jobs Halo

    USA et al

    Ok, let's be clear here. It was mainly Russia who won the european front in ww2. That doesn't make stalin a good person, or his regime a "nice" one.

    As for the US helping the allies, well, of course they did, but the good part is called marshall plan. THAT was really nice.

    We did not exist at that point in history.... so no blames or pats ok?

    The US is a good ally, that's for sure, but it is also an empire, and you just can't be truly an allied, you more of a vassal. If it's ok for you, OK.

    As for "alternatives"... umm would you prefer china? russia? burocrateurope? guessed not.. it may not be the land of the free, but it is certainly a better place..

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