back to article McKinnon's lawyers hope UK prosecution will derail extradition

Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon has secured a potential lifeline in his long-running fight against extradition to the US on hacking charges. McKinnon's legal team recently wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service requesting a UK trial, and offering a guilty plea to computer hacking offences while denying allegations he caused any …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how long before the first of the

    "string him up" trolls?

  2. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: how long before the first of the

    That one is due around 1.15pm GMT. Bubba is scheduled for 2.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    "US attempts to extradite McKinnon only commenced in 2005, after the UK passed a controversial extradition treaty yet to be ratified by US authorities."

    Whether you think he deserves what's coming to him or not surely then we shouldn't be allowing _any_ extradition until the US decide to get round to ratifying their side of the treaty?

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Lame Duck Administration Meltdown

    "Some thought I'd done the country a service," he said, ComputerWeekly reports. "Perhaps they were thankful it was me and not Al-Qaeda."

    Yeah, but try to forget who you discovered Al Qaeda to be, Gary, which is what the half-wits are worried about.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nah, not string him up

    Just send him to the state where he committed the crime. We have a reciprocal treaty and at least the USA will convict white collar criminals (unlike the UK where they seem to be rewarded).

    McKinnon - no sympathy. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  6. Lee T.


    wot, there was no extradition treaty when he comitted the crime?!

    retroactive laws make me come over all angry libertarian, for some reason.

    country is going to the dogs (Just as badly as australia, where i live - if not worse!)

    If i lived in the UK, I would leave; i hear New Zealand is nice.

  7. Mike


    "Just send him to the state where he committed the crime" - so that would be the UK then?

  8. David
    Black Helicopters

    ffs let him go. There's no excuse for the way laws are abused.

    Gary, if you're going underground, I'm sure plenty of folks would send you money every month for your food and false moustaches etc.

    Also it's about time somebody gave the US govt an almighty slap in the face for being such a bunch of hysterical, bullshitting fairies. Grow a set, you fucked-up loons.

  9. Psymon

    @ ignorance of the law

    That line only works when the crime fits the punishment.

    If our country even suggested the BPI might be allowed to sue 12yr old girls tens of thousands for downloading a couple of mp3s, there'd be rioting on the streets, and quite rightly too.

    Unfortunately, we are talking about a backwards land with a judicial system that would be laughable if it were cordoned off to only the lardy residents that reside within its borders.

    This story has absolutely nothing to do with whether he did or did not break into the systems. We wouldn't still be following it if that were the case, we all know he did it.

    What we are all waiting for is to see if this man will face a fair trial, or a Mcarthy witch hunt on trumped up charges with a punishment blown so out of proportion that it borders on the surreal.

    Even from within the borders of our own land, with our anti-terrorist legislation bouncing around the higher courts it is blatantly apparent that the american legal system is broken, and has been for some time.

    The American lawyer mentality is a disease that should be quarantined at the border.

    Mine's the one with the troll bait in the pocket!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    @Nah, not string him up

    >"Just send him to the state where he committed the crime"

    He's already here.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    No reciprocal treaty

    Actually we don't have any reciprocal treaty until such time as it is ratified. The UK has ratified it, but the US has yet to do so.

  12. David Webb

    Did he find any?

    Did he find any evidence on UFO's though?

  13. Ted Treen
    Black Helicopters

    Cut through the crap...

    <Incandescent with rage>

    OK, Mr McKinnon's been a bit of a naughty boy:- but he did it in the UK.

    The really frightening thing is the supine attitude of the UK establishment in their desire to kneel down and present their rear to Uncle Sam - and allow a UK citizen to be hi-jacked by a foreign government to face a draconian punishment for a bit of silliness which a) brought him no personal gain, and b) was permitted by the unbelievably hopeless approach to system security by the US mliitary/gov't. and c) would bring but a mild rebuke in a UK court.

    If I complained to UK plod that my house had been burgled, and I'd either left the door unlocked or the key under the mat, plod would be even less inclined to assist (I wouldn't hold my breath, anyway) and my insurance company would say "Bugger Off!". The same should be held to apply to Uncle Sam & his sysadmins/system architects. They could be labeled "US" with very good cause.

    What is happening is a gross abuse of the system and McKinnon's rights as a UK citizen (and I abhor Cherie Blair's Human Rights Act) but this is beyond the pale.

    All this to placate Bush & to get Tony his little medals - oh, and his £15Million pa income, of course.

    Ain't socialism grand!

    If the means existed to defend McKinnon by armed intervention, it would be a course with which I might wholeheartedly sympathize, but I shouldn't say so as I'm certain Obersturmbahnfuhrer Smith's goons trawl El Reg regularly (those that can read, that is) looking for dangerous subversive dissenters.


    Damn right, since 1997 - and getting more so each year, as there's even more reason so to be, each year.

    </Incandescent with rage>

  14. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    *clasps hands with glee*

    Can I just tell you all how excited to be moderating all your fresh insights on this case? Maybe I'm a glutton for robust debate, but hang it all, 17 previous threads just weren't enough for me.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    string him up, Bubba...


    Actually I think that while he was a bit of a prat to "hack" some computers on the US mil networks, It most certainly wasn't a case of causing damage. If the reason he got in so easily is because they were unsecured, then claiming the cost of securing them as "damages" seems ludicrous.

    As i see it, damages can ONLY be the real cost of returning those systems he accessed to their states prior to his accessing them - MAYBE a couple of hundred in overtime for the IT bods to check those systems affected and restore from backups. If they don't have backups, tough titties.

    Heck, if the US Military IT infrastructure is so ineptly managed, maybe I will have a look and see what I can find.

    I however would probably do so via someone else's public WIFI.

    Mine's the one with the pringles cantenna and mini-tripod in the pockets.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @We have a reciprocal treaty

    No we don't. The treaty is not ratified by the US (three years after we did so). The US like doing this, they sign up to a treaty, use it to their advantage but never ratify their own side. That's why they can use dumdums but nobody else who signed the treaty can. They also didn't ratify a large chunk of the other Hague treaty stuff into law but love to bleat on about other countries (some of whom never even signed up) "breaking the Geneva convention".

  17. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Rejected: Time to pay up Gary

    I said no Bubba, you thoroughly unpleasant commenter. Go to your room. Or Bubba's.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    support for Gary not Troll baiting like some

    I for one support Gary in his quest for a UK trial, I have followed this case for many a year, and simple put, Gary would be used as a Patsey in the US should he be extradited and face trial. Its rather similar to the way George Galloway was used a few years back, when he was singled out, to take the blame over the Oil for Arms scandle in 2005.

    The difference is that George has a mouth and a quick mind that allowed him to voice the hypocrisy of those sitting at the hearing.

    Gary however I feel will not get that sort of opportunity to voice the hypocracy of bad administration of systems and the cost of the damages he is accused of causing.

    It seems obvious that all the time the US postulates and makes threats like "we will make you fry" he will never face a fair trial in the USA.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, come on!

    Do you think Obama, an Alien Abductee himself (google it) will tolerate this little scotsman trying to pry on his overlords?

    He'll wish he'd been shipped off to gitmo after the Reptiles are through with him.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All criminals should expect to be held accountable

    Gary is no different than any other lowlife criminal. He does not deserve any special treatment. His crimes were in the U.S.A. and that's where he should be tried like any other criminal. No magic here. If the U.S. prosecutes him and he is sentenced to prison, so be it. He shouldn't get a free pass or special treatment just because he lives in the U.K. He knew exactly what he was doing when he hacked and I'm sure he knew the potential punishment. Now it's time to face the music in the U.S.A.

  21. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I liked this bit

    from the BBC report:

    "As the assembled lawyers and supporters - among them his MP David Burrowes - presented their arguments, Mr McKinnon calmly gazed into space..."

    You can imagine the briefing, can't you. "Look Gary, love, no emotion. Remember that. NO, don't look cross. You're an emotional cripple, remember. So keep a straight face and NO STOP GRIMACING LIKE THAT. Oh god, this is hopeless. Can't we give him a pill or something?"

    And later in the report

    "...he told the BBC afterwards. "I'm on Beta blockers...""

    I wonder how much Simon Baron-Cohen's getting paid for this?

  22. kain preacher

    @Lee T

    wot, there was no extradition treaty when he comitted the crime?!

    Um yes there was

  23. Pierre

    Crime? No. USA? No

    When the *erm* hacking took place, it was an offense, not a crime (and a petty one, at that). The law has been subsequently hardened, but applying laws retroactively is incredibly nasty.

    The _offense_ (not crime) has been committed in the UK. The extradition treaty hasn't been ratified by the US (and one might reasonnably think that the US have no intention of ratifying it, ever. As usual. Lying deceptive twats) so should be considered void, surely.

    I say, the snooping idiot stays where he is and gets a fair trial. In the country where the offense was committed (the UK). (which means he'll benefit from a reasonably fair judiciary system, not a risible staged comedy as it's so often the case in the US. Just a bonus)

  24. Owen Milton


    My apologies for making the ever-wise Moderatrix read yet another comment but...

    After so long in the news, I don't actually care where the person in question is tried as long as 2 things happen.

    First, that whatever judge is involved investigates the damage claim. I don't think anyone who's worked in IT thinks it's not inflated.

    Second, from what I remember reading here and elsewhere (This may be in error), when they were originally talking about extraditing him the wonderful American prosecution team were threatening him with a US Military trial. If it can be verified that someone was telling him this, they need investigation and "correction".

  25. Anonymous Coward


    I'm not a McKinnon fan but I'm fascinated by the "did he commit the crime here or over there" debate - I'm leaning more to the "over there" side for the moment, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

    However - what *is* irrelevant to me is the level of security the hijacked computers may or may not have had in place. It's like your house being burgled: if you, the homeowner, forgot to lock the door, then yes, you're a total bloody idiot - but that does *not* excuse the actions of the burglar or perv who rummaged through your sock-drawer or toy-chest.

    I'm the one tucking the nicked knickers into my mac.

  26. Justin Smith

    Extradition treaty strawmen should be torched

    And once again, a group of ill informed people voice their ignorance about the state of the extradition treaty between the US and UK, which has indeed been ratified on both sides of the pond, as evident here:$472197.htm

    It would be nice if El Reg would actually say so in their articles, but then why let the facts and journalistic integrity get in the way of a few advertising dollars?

  27. Danny Craig

    he commited the crime in the UK and should face trial here

    Simply put he is a UK citizen who commited his crimes from the UK and should face trial in the UK and by UK law (using all the evidence the american authorities present) . In a reverse situation would we expect an american who had hacked into british government networks from the USA to be extradited here to face trial, I certainly wouldn't, but I would expect america to try him on our behalf using evidence provided by us but under AMERICAN law.

    What punishment he deserves is irrelevant in this argument and I don't wanna get into that (leave that to a judge in a BRITISH court), this is a point of principle, has he even ever set foot in the USA???

    I'm sure most britains (myself included) believed that extradition would only be used in circumstances where a british citizen commits a crime in the USA (like murder, bank robbery, whatever) and then runs back to britain. These are the circumstances where extradition back to the USA is perfectly acceptable. But with the McKinnon case, america is abusing this system because he embarassed them.

  28. Andus McCoatover

    Bloody don't get it..

    So, the $70,000 (whatever) and 60 years jail time they're asking for is to "fix the locks" they should've fixed years ago.

    Did I get it right?

    Fricking Merkans. In Finland, I'd probably get 14 years for murder - out in 8. (Less, if it's your wife/husband. Nagging/drunk b*stard. ;-)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a very amicable solution

    Prosecute Gary in both the UK and US for hacking. Have him serve his sentence in the U.S. first - where he committed his crimes and then serve his sentence in the UK after the U.S. releases him. Problem solved.

  30. kain preacher

    Not criminal

    Um not a crime in the US ??? or you kidding . Computer trespassing laws have been around in the US since 1996.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    @Justin Smith

    I couldn't give a toss whether the US have raitified this extradition treaty or not. That isn't the problem with it.

    The facts remain that it is extremely one-sided and that it is being applied both inappropriately and retrospectively, i.e. he could not have been extradited for this at the time the alleged offence ocurred, even if the treaty had existed, which it didn't.

    The US can apply this treaty and get a UK citizen extradited without providing ANY evidence, whereas the UK must provide prima facie evidence to a US court to secure an extradition. If you can't see how wrong this is, there is something wrong with you.

    When the day comes that the US is prepared to hand over one of its citizens without evidence, maybe I'll have a little less sympathy for Gary, but while the UK is prepared to bend over and drop their trousers in this shameful manner, I'm on Gary's side.

  32. Ro

    incompatible with UK human rights legislation

    Obviously he is an idiot for having done this but I don't see how an extradition process can be compatible with UK human rights legislation. Any one else who committed this crime within the borders of the US would be incarcerated in the same country as they live in and therefore their family lives in. McKinnon on the other hand will be discriminated against in that he will have to live out his life locked up on the opposite side of the world from his family. In that this is not the case for American hackers guilty of the same crime it is an unusual punishment. To be separated from your family and friends by the Atlantic ocean is a cruel punishment as he will have to live for decades in a foreign land with very rare visits. In that it applies to Englishmen in such a way but not to Americans is discriminatory based upon country of origin. In that it is perfectly possible to serve a prison sentence in England it is unnecessary and disproportionate.

    It is unfortunate that he must be punished so severely for such a minor offence but accepting that he is guilty and deserves his punishment is no defence of a treaty that offends so severely against Human rights. I understand that prisoners forfeit certain human rights but this is far too excessive.

  33. Andy Davies

    @Justin Smith

    And once again, a group of ill informed people voice their ignorance about the state of the extradition treaty between the US and UK, which has indeed been ratified on both sides of the pond, as evident here:

    ... which says it WASN'T ratified - so I didn't need to check the rest!

    AndyD 8-)#

  34. Anonymous Coward

    @Justin Smith

    Yes, the senate ratified the treaty, but from your first link :

    "The treaty still needs to be formally approved by US president, George Bush. "

    Well, has it?

  35. PC Paul

    @Andy Davies

    Yes, you *did* need to read the rest of the links . Your link was from 2006. The clearest link from the others is from 2007, when the Treaty *was* finally ratified. This one:


    "26 April 2007

    UK/U.S. Extradition Treaty Ratified

    The United Kingdom and United States have today ratified a bilateral extradition treaty to ensure more effective arrangements to bring offenders from either state to justice. "

    I didn't think it had been ratified either, but I like to think I'm open minded, so I actually looked...

    It does say one puzzling thing though - they seem to think the UK used to ask for stronger evidence from the US than the US wanted from the UK - I always thought that was the other way round.

    It's been balanced out now though - both sides now equally require enough evidence that an arrest warrant would be granted. That's it.

  36. Andus McCoatover

    Can anyone think of a case the other way?

    Where a 'Merkan has been shipped to Blighty for trial? I can't. Surely, with 300 million folks out there, and our "Special Relationship" (Damn - another keyboard gone to the Coffee Fairy) it must've happened. Anyone? No? Odd that.

    'Course, with the merkans pathetic security, can't someone hack into the Homeland Security system (from a public wifi network, natch) and stick him on the "No-Fly" list.

    That'll fuc*k 'em.

  37. Andus McCoatover

    ...and stick him on the "No-Fly" list

    Sorry, should've been the "No Fry list" - from his lawyer:

    << The threats from US authorities also included one from New Jersey prosecutors that Mr McKinnon "would fry", said Mr Pannick.>>

    (Nice name for a lawyer, though...bit like the outfit in Leamington Spa called "Wright Hassall".

    Comfy. )

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ kain Preacher

    "Um not a crime in the US ??? or you kidding . Computer trespassing laws have been around in the US since 1996."

    Yeah well, there IS a difference between crime and offense, innit?

  39. pctechxp

    Time for our PM to show some bottle

    And just like when the US gov refused to send the USAF's inept finest over here to assist in an enquiry into how their itchy trigger finger led to the deaths of our sodiers, so it is time our PM stood up and said No to extraditing a British Citizen as if the boot was on the other foot they wouldn't be extraditing him here.

    But of course he'll be bottler Brown again.

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