back to article Judges set timetable for McKinnon case resolution

Senior judges have set a timetable to speed up resolution in the long-running Gary McKinnon extradition case, effectively setting a deadline for the Home Office to respond to evidence that McKinnon is too infirm to withstand the stress of a US trial and likely imprisonment over alleged Pentagon hacking offences. The case was …


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  1. Turtle

    "The campaign focused attention on US-UK extradition requirements, which critics argue are unfairly biased because US extradition requests need not be accompanied by any evidence"

    This would seem to be irrelevant insofar as he has admitted it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      wrong..oh so wrong

      He admitted breaking the UK Computer Misuse Act - and rightly expected to be prosecuted in the UK for breaking that law (probable suspended sentence). He did not admit to any terrorist activity - which is what the extradition agreement was intended for. The point is that they are trying to extradite him on terrorist charges for which no evidence is required, and which he has denied.

      1. JimC

        ...crime was committed in the UK

        Seems to me that's a very weak argument.

        Lets think, lets say a bank robber or someone sets up an arrangement so that by pulling a rope on one side of a National border they break into a bank on the other side of the border. The crime surely happened where the bank was, not where the bloke was pulling the rope.

      2. david wilson

        >>"He did not admit to any terrorist activity - which is what the extradition agreement was intended for. "

        Reading it

        the extradition treaty /seems/ to cover all extraditable offences, of which terrorism is only one.

        What evidence do you have that the intention with the new treaty was that non-terrorist offences would no longer be extraditable offences, since that seems to be what you're claiming is the case?

        If you actually meant something else, like "The new treaty was negotiated to make terrorist extradition easier" or "The new treaty was sold to the public/politicians on the basis that it would make terrorist extradition easier", that's not at all close in meaning to what you actually said.

        "He did not admit to any terrorist activity - which is *one of the things* the extradition agreement was intended for" would be a very different statement.

        1. Ben Tasker


          Given the JoK lays out his thinking, and still says that he doesn't believe Gary should be extradited I'd say he's probably fairly unbiased.

          I don't think Gary should be extradited, but I do think that he (inc. legal team) have been playing the media somewhat. I've noted the points you've raised, but as the _only_ posts you have made on El Reg are in support of McKinnon I'm more likely to view the opinion of one who lays out his thinking.

          It's more than possible that the allegations have been boosted somewhat. But you know what, if I accuse you of mass genocide and there's any possibility that it could be true it _has_ to be investigated.

          Whether or not that should happen in the UK or the US is something entirely different. The fact that this is the first I've heard of the actual allegations raises questions in my mind about the reliability of the information coming from Gary's legal team (who were always going to be biased anyway!).

          Re: Critical system files - Given the allegation mentions critical system files AND logfiles, I find it hard to believe that these are the 'critical' files mentioned.

          Also, it would not be defamation to publish the allegations. It's reporting on the facts - i.e. he has been accused of this. Given the papers are more than happy to publish 'Joe Bloggs has been accused of kiddy fiddling' given half the chance, I find it highly unlikely they would hold back to save Gary's character. See same for prejudicing fair outcome.

          All this still doesn't mean he is guilty but also doesn't mean he isn't. Even that is a seperate argument to where he should be tried. All we know is that important facts have been left out in reporting. Gary's supporters have been quite media friendly when rallying support (and who can blame them) but it does also reflect badly when you see that _very_ important (read: the actual allegations) have been left out. Especially, if you take at face value the assertion that he admitted it was politically motivated, compare and contrast to the current 'reason'

    2. Ben Tasker

      Whether or not it's relevant doesn't necessarily have any impact on whether or not the treaty is valid though. Especially if it's a campaign to have the treaty scrapped/reviewed.

      I'd love to think of a good analogy, but I can't! I guess the closest I can think of would be if you did something and got stung by the terms and conditions used by company A. Although you couldn't deny you did it, you could argue the terms were unfair and therefore invalid. Even then it's a bad analogy because the contract would relate to you and not simply be used against you having been agreed by someone else (perhaps a change in contract agreed by a Union, I dunno)

      Anyway, he definitely did wrong, but I don't think to the extent that warrants extradition. I also have a bugbear about anyone believing that they can ignore medical evidence/reports. I suspect he'll be back in court though as I'm not convinced Theresa May is going to give the yanks two fingers!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Have a read on the Internet. Like you I did think his activities where more of the 'slap on the wrist' offense.

        I was quite surprised to read the level of damage for which he is accused. There is a blog by a Solicitor, Jack of Kent, which seems to be unbiased.

        1. Ben Tasker


          Thanks for that, had Jack of Kent in my 'to read' list for a while!

          It's interesting looking at the charges actually, they definitely don't line up with what we hear in the media

          - Deleted critical operating system files from 9 computers - OUCH! - leading to a 24hr shutdown of 2000 computers.

          I'd assume then that those 9 computers were in fact servers!

          - rm'd 2,455 user accounts from one computer -OUCH! - again guessing a server

          - rm'd sys files & logs from systems at Weapons station

          - Downloaded data we already know

          Left message : "US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels … "

          Jaysus! OK they are only allegations, but WTF haven't we heard mention of any of them (partly my fault for not taking the time to look I know)? Interesting to note that he also initially admitted the hack was for political reasons, but now maintains he was looking for UFO evidence.

          We've also heard nothing of the observations by the High Court & the House of Lords - "gravity of the offences alleged against the appellant should not be understated: the equivalent domestic offences include an offence under section 12 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment."

          I'd agree about Jack of Kent being unbiased, he lays out the facts and then explains why he opposes the extradition.

          I've got some reading to do tonight then!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            I daresay the reason we've not heard anything of what they're accused of is very similar to the NatWest three case, in that no-one cares, they just presume that if America is involved the Americans are wrong and will punitively punish an innocent person. It's therefore not unreasonable to presume that no-one is actually interested in the facts of the case, just another opportunity to slag America and Americans off on the Internet. You can hardly blame the mainstream media, they are hardly going to be able to go into what he's done in detail, it's far too technical for most people to understand.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Paranoid, much! lol The facts of the case, in comparison to the allegations, speak for themselves.

          2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

            Re: OK they are only allegations

            Yes, and that's why it is very convenient indeed that the extradition treaty doesn't require the US to give the slightest hint of a proof...

          3. Bill99

            I could make an allegation that you'd raped, murdered and dismembered someone, if I wanted to. But that wouldn't make it true though, would it? Wouldn't mean you had a case to answer. lol

            You're wrong to assume Jack of Kent is unbiased, when you clearly have no idea of the information and factual detail he's selectively leaving out, in favour of repeating ludicrous allegations that have been publicly shown to have no basis in fact. The reason some of these allegations are not mentioned elsewhere anymore is because proper journalists who check their facts know that these allegations are false and that repeating them amounts to defamation, not to mention prejudicing a fair outcome. Jack of Kent is an incompetent at best, as far as this case is concerned.

          4. Bill99

            Did Jack of Kent also include the Judge's response to the suggestion of trying McKinnon under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act? The response was, and I quote: "and pigs might fly".

            Did the oh-so unbiassed Jack of Kent mention that? No, I thought not.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ Ben

          Wowsers, that article changes my mind about a few things too.

          Notable that Gary pretty much admitted to the (substantially more serious) allegations under caution and forensic data released in court papers suggests the allegations would be difficult to deny. As Jack of Kent says, that doesn't prove the allegations - that's for the courts to decide - but in my opinion, it does paint a different picture than the popular media and many campaigners would have us believe.

          Frankly, if I did that much damage to military systems, I would be bricking it. Purely from the perspective of bystander, perhaps the realisation of the scale of the alleged damage has added to his problems over the years.

          I don't agree with Jack of Kent about custodial sentences not being a deterrent. On balance, it seems to me there is a case to answer in the US.

          1. Bill99

            Number One - the only admission was Computer Misuse Level1 - a Summary Offence and not extraditable, hence not material to the extradition request. That admission was made without an Appropriate Adult present in any case, which renders it inadmissable as evidence. The extradition allegations have always been denied. His solicitors made an offer to admit Level3, but this was laughed out of court as so blatantly contrary to the evidence.

            Number Two - the forensic IT report (which Jack of Kent for some reason omits to mention) shows that McKinnon caused no damage at all.

            Number Three - without 'reasonable suspicion' that he caused the threshhold amount of damage, it is not an extraditable offence. That 'reasonable suspicion' was ruled out by the evidence presented to the High Court in 09.

            Number Four - Why Jack of Kent fails to grasp any of this is anybody's guess. He had a very good reputation before he threw it away on this hatchet job on an innocent and vulnerable man....

        3. Bill99

          Jack of Kent unbiased? Don't make me laugh

          The whole reason why people are opposed to this extradition is that the wild allegations made by the US prosecutors are without foundation, and the current legislation affords no protection from such false allegations. The extradition request relies upon the allegation of $5000 of damage caused per machine accessed. This allegation was shown in the High Court in July 09 to be unsubstantiated, and most likely false [cf the CPS Review Note Three and the forensic IT report of Prof. Peter Summer]. The 'critical files' McKinnon is accused of deleting turned out to be his own log files, the 'vital military installations' he's supposed to have shut down were not in fact shut down by him, and in any case were only responsible for ceremonial and administrative activities. The information he accessed was so 'top secret' that it was put on the internet without any protection. The $5000 of 'damage' turned out to be the cost of installing the firewalls and passwords that the US military were legally obliged to have installed in the first place! If you doubt how the government have exaggerated the allegations, never mind Jack of Kent, who clearly has his own axe to grind, and is highly selective in his analysis. Have a look at Mark Ballard's award-winning article for Computer Weekly.

        4. Jason 24


          Interesting read that Jack of Kent, plenty of good links to follow, gotta agree there is a pretty damn good case for extraditing him.

          What I don't get though is why it took them a 17 month investigation to find a guy who had effectively RDP'd to unsecured machines with blank administrator passwords? I can only assume they were connected on puclic IP addresses?

          My eyes are burning, kinda got sucked into that blog

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Titus Technophobe

          I would also like to thank you for that link.

          I am usually quite sceptical with regard to the press but I seem to have let my guard down over this issue. I still think he should be tried in the UK but considering the gravity of the accusations I do now understand why America is pushing so hard. People need a valid case to get the government to re-think this one sided extradition treaty but it would appear that isn't the one.

    3. laird cummings

      "The campaign focused attention on US-UK extradition requirements, which critics argue are unfairly biased because US extradition requests need not be accompanied by any evidence"

      Especially since this is factually untrue. The US uses different language for its evidence requirements - but that's all.

      Further, since the US has refused NOT ONE of the UK's requests, whilst the UK has refused numorous US requests, the claim that somehow the US is getting the better of the deal is stupid on its face, and should embarass anyone who makes it.

    4. LarsG


      a crime here try him here, and I think that is the problem.

      He would probably be aquitted if tried by a jury in this country as it should be, an opportunity in sticking two fingers up to the US for interfering in our judicial system.

      This would cause untold problems with the 'special relationship' crap they keep feeding us.

      Therefore they see the easier way out and send him on holiday.

      If he goes, there will be an under the table agreement to keep him locked up while the trial takes place, then release him with a suspended sentence and undertaking that he does not touch a computer for a year or so.

      Anything more than that we should tell them to get lost.

  2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    "....Asperger's sufferer McKinnon would be a suicide risk if extradited to the US...."

    Ah, poor ickle dear! I suppose it would be best, and for his own good, if we just have him Sectioned and sent to a nice, secure, prison psychiatric ward somewhere, so he can receive the treatment he seems to need.....

    1. Ben Tasker

      And if he went to court in the UK, a doctor would asses him and if they felt it was necessay that's exactly what would happen.

      Of course, if it's would be a suicide risk _IF_ extradited.... as it seems to be, then it logically follows he won't be a suicide risk if they don't extradite him.

      Just a thought

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        The claim that Gary has developed 'an autistic fixation on committing suicide' were he extradited is basically saying 'extradite Gary and he'll top himself!'. I hold anybody who espouses such a thing beneath contempt.

        People charged with crimes are suicide risks, and sometimes they attempt suicide. We do not, as a policy, reduce the severity of any punishment if a perpetrator attempts suicide, for it would only encourage more suicide attempts by others. Thus, if Gary succeeds in his aim of avoiding punishment a very dangerous precedent will be set.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          'Dangerous precedent'? hardly!

          No it won't. What a silly thing to say. Because each case is taken on its own merits. A precedent would therefore only be set for cases which match this highly unusual (if not unique) one in all the relevant respects.

          And he's not trying to avoid punishment, it's always been made very clear that that is not the agenda here. He's asking for a UK trial, that's all - which is not unreasonable, considering that the grounds for extradition are very shaky to say the least.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        RE: Ben Tasker

        "And if he went to court in the UK, a doctor would asses him...." Strangely enough, all these claims of "mental illness", yet he seems to be quite happilly roaming the streets (and the Internet)....

        1. Naughtyhorse

          asbergers is not a mental illness.

          it's a disability

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Asperger's is not a disability

            Asperger himself defined it as "the extreme end of normal male behaviour". Note the word "normal" in there. Most aspies function perfectly well in society - and, let's face it, most of modern science and It wouldn;t exist without them.

            Mr McKinnon's decision to claim that people with Asperger's are compulsive, untrustworthy security risks has not been a helpful move.

            Oh, and read up about the medical and social models of disability, will you.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      But he might then end up getting ECT for the rest of his life. Now would that be fair?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward



      And his medical condition should have nothing to do with the fact he should not be extradited. This treaty is being abused beyond it's remit for political gain - and it will get worse (extradition for having a web-site with links to TV programs - that's what they're going for now).

      The extradition treaty was agree for TERRORISTS - is he a terrorist? Is the guy with links to TV torrents a terrorist? And they wondered why people didn't believe the US gov.t about abusing the scope of SOPA (we will only use it for piracy sites - honest). Yeah, just like this is only for terrorists - honest.

      You may not like the guy, but seriously you need to wake up to what is going on here.

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        @AC 15:11

        "The extradition treaty was agree for TERRORISTS"

        No, the extradition treaty is for everyone, not just those charged with terrorist offences.

        1. Magnus_Pym

          Mis-sold then.

          Even if that is not what they actually wanted it for it was certainly sold to the public here as a necessary part of the WAR ON TERROR. Do you really think they would get it through parliament if they said it was desperately needed to combat UFO conspiracy theorists?

          P.S. Our American friends wouldn't even allow US servicemen to be questioned in the UK during the friendly fire death inquests. So it seems unlikely they would actually allow extradition doesn't it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            UFO Conspiracy theorist?

            Would a UFO conspiracy theorist post the following message:

            "US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels … "

            Note the threat in the last sentence. Put that in a post 9/11 context and add in his disruption of services and deletion of data. One can easily see how the authorities in the US may come to the conclusion that there was a real and credible attack underway.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              UFO Conspiracy theorist?

              "US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels … "

              Anyone who claims to be Hans Solo is clearly under a misaprehension of some sort. ;-)

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              a) Those are very heavily-edited quotes from what he actually wrote. He also said he's a friend of the American people, and that he's very worried for their sake about the lack of security on those computers. But in any case, have you read what you typed? The answer is yes!

              b) You are interpreting those quotes from the perspective of a neuro-typical person. People with Asperger's don't always know how to communicate in the most diplomatic way, or understand how their behaviour may be interpreted by others. You simply can't assume any threatening intent, once you know the circumstances, however it may appear at first glance.

          2. david wilson


            >>"Even if that is not what they actually wanted it for it was certainly sold to the public here as a necessary part of the WAR ON TERROR. Do you really think they would get it through parliament if they said it was desperately needed to combat UFO conspiracy theorists?"

            You seem to be taking a pretty black-white view of things there.

            It's neither 'about' terrorism, nor 'about' conspiracy theorists.

            It, like the treaty before it, is 'about' a whole range of crimes, though it specifies them by having a threshold level of seriousness, rather than a specific list of offences like the previous one.

            That's a point I got wrong somewhere else (can't find the post at the moment, though I'll try to track it down and correct it).

            Though hardly a point relative to the 'terrorism' angle. It's hard to see many MPs thinking that a change from an offence list to a 1 year sentence-length-threshold would be a major aintiterrorist tool.

            (And it's not as if McKinnon is being charged with 'being a conspiracy theorist'. Rightly or wrongly, he's being charged for supposedly going into places he knew he had no right to go and allegedly causing damage. If claims of damage /have/ been exaggerated to reach a suitable threshold to qualify under the treaty, that's not the /treaty's/ fault)

            Even if the changes from the 1985 US-UK treaty had been sold to politicians on the basis that they would make terrorism extraditions easier, it's not as if the treaty is so complicated that people couldn't read it before voting.

            It's 15 pretty lightly-filled pages, with the meat of it being a few pages long, and it seems pretty obvious from reading it that it isn't just about terrorism.

            If someone couldn't even be bothered to read it before voting, I think that would be rather more of a problem than how the changes may have been presented.

            And as a member of the public, I don't remember it being sold to me /at all/, or it being an issue of concern in any particular election.

            I'm not sure that *even now* it would be likely to be a major factor in the way many people would vote, even if some people are deeply concerned about it.

            1. Naughtyhorse

              Terrorist extraditions....

              this is a bit of a red herring. any fule kno that terrorists dont get extradited. they disappear in the dead of night, repear in egypt/lybia/saudi where they get the TA Edison interrogation to their nuts for a few weeks - just to establish the facts - then it's off to gitmo forever.

              Why does the great satan need extradition treaties with anyone if thats their policy? if anything it just high lights the hypocracy of their own position i.e. harbouring their home-grown war criminals and terrorists irrespective of the crimes they commit, or indeed the evidence against them.

        2. despairing citizen
          Big Brother

          What they actually said the law was for

          The official (written) reason given in the bill was "Serious" offences.

          "The Extradition Bill is designed to introduce fundamental reform of the law of extradition,

          which provides for the return of persons accused or convicted of serious offences, from the

          United Kingdom to other jurisdictions and vice versa."

          Personally I would take that to mean 5 years+ from a court, but typical UK law is vague/contradictory on definitions, but under the powers of a criminal court (sentencing) act, it was defined as follows;

          Attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, murder;

          Soliciting murder;


          GBH (section 18 OAPA 1861);

          Rape and attempt rape;

          Intercourse with a girl under 13 (section 5 Of the Sexual Offences Act 1956);

          Possession of a firearm with intent to injure (section 16 FA 1968), use of a firearm to resist arrest (section 17 FA 1968) or carrying a firearm with criminal intent (section 18 FA 1968); and

          Robbery where at the same time the offender was in possession of a firearm or imitation firearm

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          yes, especially considering not one terrorist has been extradited under it! and not forgetting the assurances given to US senators by the british government that UK would not seek extradition of IRA terrorists given safe harbour in the USA....

      2. Chris 228

        Extradition treaties

        Extradition treaties are for all crimes not just terrorism. That's why Assange is going back to Sweden and McKinnon to the U.S.

      3. Naughtyhorse

        lol if matt ever woke up he'd have ro realise what an insignifican wrong-headed dolt he is.

        leave him in his own blissfully ignorant ikkle word why dont ya

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: Naughtyhorse

          Lol! Listen to the child whining when he has not counter-arguments! I never cease to be amazed by the blind hatred spewed on here by the anti-Yank crowd. He can't explain why McKinnon should avoid being sent to a nuthouse if he really is too "unwell" to stand trial. McKinnon's obviously a menace and has admitted to criminal hacking for political ends (yeah, UFOs, tell me another one!). If he doesn't want to stand trial in the States because he is mentally unfit then he can get some treatment here in a secure unit. One where he can't get onto the Internet.

          1. Ben Tasker

            @AC 00:43

            You wrote "you can't assume any intent once you know the circumstances"

            But that's the problem with the written word isn't it? Leave aside any additional communications issues Gary has, if you see something written it's not always possible to perceive the tone in which it was written.

            Part of the thing to think about is that there are often indirect consequences to our actions. As an easy example;

            - Gary gets onto a server and posts a message to the screen (let's ignore the content)

            That's his action

            - Server is taken offline for security check

            That's a direct consequence of his action

            - 2000 terminals reliant on that server are therefore offline

            That's an indirect consequence of his action

            - Lots of money is spent on securing the otherwise open network

            Another Indirect consequence.

            Look, what I'm saying is that as much as anyone can say "Gary only did this" the simple fact is, those indirect consequences would not have happened had he not. Yes, the DoD should have secured their systems properly, but you can't explain away one fuck-up with another.

            There can't be many here stupid enough to believe that most other places wouldn't try and blame the resulting mess on the 'hacker' that penetrated their systems? I'm not saying it's fair, but as the chain of causality is there, there's a good chance it's a tactic that'll be agreed by a court.

            All that said, I'm still undecided as to whether or not he should be tried in the UK or in the US. I lean towards the former though, but obviously that's without even considering possible medical evidence.

          2. Naughtyhorse


            looks like i fed the troll

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    10 years?

    Isn't there a Statute of Limitations on this?

    Obviously not.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Charges were >brought< 10 years ago, so the statute does not apply. In any case it is Gary who has been holding everything up.

      1. Bill99

        What rubbish!

        Ten years ago when charges were brought, the CPS decided not to prosecute because, according to the head of the High Tech Crime Unit, they had been told 'from the top' to 'stand aside, because America wanted him'. Charges were dropped. A further three years then passed, and it was only after the new extradition act came into force, removing the requirement for prima facie evidence, that the extradition request was issued.

        And then in May 2010, the Home Secretary herself adjourned the Judicial Review in order to consider the evidence. The submissions requested by the Home Secretary were then received by the 8th June deadline as requested, and since then, she has sat on her proverbial, scraping the barrel for lame excuses not to act on her Section 6 obligations. It's been 18 months.

        You can hardly say it's >Gary< who has been holding everything up.

        1. david wilson


          >>"Ten years ago when charges were brought, the CPS decided not to prosecute because, according to the head of the High Tech Crime Unit, they had been told 'from the top' to 'stand aside, because America wanted him'. Charges were dropped."

          Which charges were brought and subsequently dropped?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, they waited three years after the alleged offence to request extradition in the first place. Had they made the request in a timely manner, of course, they'd have had to provide evidence for their allegations. Coincidence?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After he is sent to the U.S. for trial...

    ...they should add ten years on to his prison sentence for manipulation of the judicial system and public opinion. His Mum should get a stern tongue lashing for being in denial and orchestrating an invisible illness to help her son try to escape accountability for his hacking crimes. These two are an insult to those suffering from Asperger's and a disgrace to society.

  5. Magnus_Pym

    After he is sent to the U.S. for trial...

    Yes and after that they can actually try him and find out if he is guilty or not.

    The problem is not the extradition but the terms. No evidence has been presented so he cannot counter defend himself and on the face of it the claims seem a bit unlikely.

  6. Velv

    The world is changing faster than our laws can keep up.

    It is only in very recent years that it is possible to commit a crime in a remote location from your physical body. Is the crime actually committed in two different places simultaneously?

    We're going to need a legal system in cyberspace soon, since it exists in a whole dimension beyond our existing legal systems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not so quick.

      As long as people have been able to communicate - by mail or telegraph for example - the motivation and opportunity has existed to commit a crime remotely.

      The internet has its origins in the Victorian telegraph and transatlantic cable infrastructure.

      Wirefraud has been a crime in the US since 1872.

      1. Rolf Howarth

        The question isn't whether it's possible to commit cross-border crimes but by whose standards you ought to be judged, your country of residence or the country where the offence was supposedly committted.

        Let's say you post a humorous pornographic email to your mate who just happens to be working overseas in Saudi Arabia at the time, are you saying it's right for you to be extradited so you can be publicly flogged?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, and in the US, the precedent for cybercrime (case relating to online gambling, i believe) is that the offence occurs at the keyboard, and must be tried in that jurisdiction. In this case, that is UK. End of.

        1. david wilson


          >>"Yes, and in the US, the precedent for cybercrime (case relating to online gambling, i believe) is that the offence occurs at the keyboard, and must be tried in that jurisdiction. In this case, that is UK. End of."

          Is that 'the precedent' or 'a precedent', and is it *must be* or *can be*?

          There is a distinct difference.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      anarchy works

      on the internet and in the real world.

      so lets just use that. didnt anyone tell you the simplest solution is the best.

  7. James 100

    Cross-border crimes

    It's certainly *easier* to commit crimes across borders, but it's not new legally - mail fraud, abusive phone calls, sending someone death threats...

    Across a land border, it's possible to have a more obvious crime: quite easy to imagine shooting somebody on the far side of a border, such as that between England and Wales. Apparently it isn't clear cut either way: they'd look at the circumstances (if it was part of the getaway from a bank robbery in Wales, for example, it makes more sense to bring all the charges there), location of witnesses, things like that.

    From the charges, it seems McKinnon took out the Domain Controllers in a big NT domain, probably trying to cover his tracks.

    Jack of Kent's analysis was very thorough and even-handed, I felt, as well as informative: anyone who hasn't already done so should go and read it through to the final conclusion before commenting.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "alleged Pentagon hacking offences"

    If McKinnon managed to hack into sensitive Pentagon systems from the other side of the Atlantic, shouldn't the IT security manager at the Pentagon be on trial for gross negligence?

    If McKinnon caused millions of dollars worth of damage, shouldn't the same character at the Pentagon be explaining how that could possibly happen without an adequate backup and recovery strategy?

    1. laird cummings

      And if I leave my door unlocked, and you enter and damage or remove my property, somehow you're not a thief and a vandal..?

      Bullshite, my friend. Bullshite.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't get me wrong

        No doubt what McKinnon did was wrong... but he was a clowning UFO nutjob.

        If sensitive military systems are connected to the internet in such a way that a nutjob from the UK can access them with ease, corrupt them, and damage them to the tune of millions of dollars... there is someone in the USA who has been seriously negligent.

        McKinnon is just an idiot... How many other people, who were potentially a much greater security threat than him, had access to those insecure machines covertly before he trashed them?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And if I leave my door unlocked, "

        yeah but if you were paying some guy to lock your door for you and he left it unlocked, I suspect he would be looking for another job PDQ.

      3. Naughtyhorse

        true under law,

        but you try that bullshite defence with your insurers......

        not as clear cut as you think is it

  9. ovation1357

    I really feel for Gary McKinnon. Yup, he committed compter-related crime, but I'd certainly agree that it's all more "slap on the wrist" kinda stuff. Regardless of what his health problems may or may not be, he should not be extradited so that the military hounds in the U.S. can rip him apart.

    What he has done, of course, is severely embarrass some very senior military officials (probably, mostly the types with the piggy little eyes and a dose of "small man syndrome") and now they're out for his blood. What better way to restore a battered ego than to see the guy who done[sic] it fry.

    With accusations such as "Deleted critical operating system files from 9 computers leading to a 24hr shutdown of 2000 computers." It instantly makes me wonder whether he actually caused the shutdown or whether in fact they chose to shut down 2000 computers while they discovered the nature and extent of the security breach.

    It seems not to be in the U.S. psyche to admit to failures in their security, they'd far rather publicly demonise the perpetrator than admit any failings of their own. I mean *seriously*, who in their right mind would place, 'systems at Weapons station,' anywhere near a public network?

    The U.S . doesn't exactly have the best track record with human rights or fair trials and if I was the decision maker there is no way on hell or earth I would let a British citizen be extradited there.

    Sadly, the U.S. Government seem to have the British government wrapped around its little finger. No one seems to have the balls to tell them firmly but politely, "No!"

    In fact, someone should commend Gary for uncovering severe security loopholes which might have been exploited by a real enemy! Hell, perhaps they should even offer him a job on their security team.

    Just my lefty-liberal two-penny worth :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, you're right. At the hearing in 2009, it was revealed that the 'critical operating system files' he deleted were nothing of the sort, merely his own log-files, and could not have compromised the systems operation at all. And that the shutdown of computers was done by the US authorities themselves when they were finally alerted to the breach.

      So....either the US prosecutors don't know their a*s from their elbow, or they're knowingly making false allegations. I wouldn't extradite someone to face people like that either.

      1. david wilson

        >>"Yes, you're right. At the hearing in 2009, it was revealed that the 'critical operating system files' he deleted were nothing of the sort, merely his own log-files, and could not have compromised the systems operation at all."

        Any links to the original documents regarding that?

        There seem to be so many claims and Nth-hand reports of things flying around that actually finding the facts isn't always easy.

      2. Ben Tasker


        As per my earlier post though;

        If you put a pornographic image as my desktop, and in trying to resolve it I accidentally manage to blow away my OS, who's at fault? Yes, it was my action, but it's an action that would not have happened without _your_ action.

        Actions have consequences, both direct and indirect. So yes, the Mil may have been the ones to switch those systems of for 24 hours, but as long as they can show that it was a reasonable response whilst investigating a breach the buck stays with Gary on that one.

        Think about running a secure (or in this case a supposed to be secure!) network, if you have evidence of a breach, are you going to allow the other terminals to carry on on the assumption they'll be OK? Or perhaps you'd take them offline Until Further Notice? I know which I'd do.

        I'd like to see evidence of them saying that the critical files were logfiles, especially as the allegation seems to say critical files and logfiles.

        1. Mad Mike

          @Ben Tasker

          This is pretty preposterous really. If rather than gain entry, Gary had simply informed them of the issue, what would they have done? By your logic, they should have shutdown the systems. The shutdown was not Garys fault, but a natural consequence of their complete incompetence. If they'd done their jobs properly in the first place, it wouldn't have happened and if pointed out (without criminal action to find it), they should have done the same. Your argument is like saying someone who finds a fault with a car is responsible for the entire recall program to correct it. Absolutely preposterous.

          Whilst he should undoubtedly face the consequences of his action, there is no doubt he is being roundly abused for simply showing someone elses incompetence. That has no place in justice.

          The USA keep changing the rules all the time to suit their needs. They have been shown to condone torture, yet lecture others on it. They have shown that the offence occurs at the location of the keyboard, in this case in the UK. He can be prosecuted here, but as the punishment is not harsh enough to appease them, they choose to extradite him. That's like looking around the world and finding the country with the harshest penalty for a crime and then extraditing them there. Pathetic. They expect extradition to be a one way process, where they get who they want, but anyone politically sensitive from their perspective (shall we say IRA terrorists), is immune.

          I'm generally a great supporter of the USA and believe their position is very difficult, being both the 'great satan' and also the country everyone expects to police the world. They are always the country looked to when someone needs sorting out. However, if they continue to behave in such a high handed, one sided way, are they really surprised when they get attacked? Even if you polled their population, I would be amazed if they supported this extradition.

          Fail icon, because its an epic fail.

          1. david wilson

            @Mad Mike

            >>"They have shown that the offence occurs at the location of the keyboard, in this case in the UK. "

            Is that 'the offence' *'an offence'*, or *'the only offence'*, or something else?

            >>"He can be prosecuted here, but as the punishment is not harsh enough to appease them, they choose to extradite him. That's like looking around the world and finding the country with the harshest penalty for a crime and then extraditing them there."

            It's nothing like doing that.

            It's not as if the UK found out about a crime and was looking to dump McKinnon on some random other country - in this case, the USA found out what was happening, alerted the UK authorities and started getting US indictments sorted out, and the USA does have some claim to jurisdiction, one which various UK courts (not simply UK politicians) seem to have pretty consistently found to be valid.

        2. Mad Mike

          @Ben Tasker

          The scenario you cite is completely different for one simple and very obvious reason..........there was no inherent fault on your computer. Therefore, any action is based on the person putting the picture there. However, if your computer didn't have any security, the person putting the picture there would be responsible for that, but having to switch the machine off because of the security holes would be yours.

          In the above case, you would be advocating shooting the messenger for highlighting your incompetence in reasonably securing your machine. This is exactly what they're attempting to do with Gary. What he did was not right and he should be tried for it, but the charges are stupid. He didn't cause them all to be shutdown, he merely highlighted the rubbish security through his actions. If he'd been employed as a penetration tester and had found the errors, resulting in the shutdown, would he still be responsible? No, of course not.

          Trying to hype up the charges is also a stupid move by the Americans as this always makes things look dodgy. Lay sensible charges which look reasonable against the facts and people are inclined to go along with it. Turn something trivial into the crime of the decade (and this is what it looks like) and people won't. So, trying to hype things up is self-defeating unless you have the muscle to bully people into going along with it. Back to the Americans again!!

          1. Ben Tasker

            @Mad Mike

            You've touched on the important point here - What he did was not right, i.e. it was wrong.

            This is why the systems being down are attributed to him. Had he been a pen tester, then yes, the downtime would have happened, but and this is critical would have happened in a planned way at a time those responsible believed to be reasonable.

            I'm not saying it's fair that the blame for this lays at his door, but it is an obvious indirect consequence when pissing about on someone elses network.

            I agree that they are in fact shooting the messenger, but that's exactly what you should expect to happen when you are doing wrong. He didn't knock on the door and politely tell them, he kicked his way through the (in this case unlocked) door and left a note.

            I'd say there's a certain amount of embarassement at higher levels which Gary is unfortunately paying the price for, again it's not fair but it's a position that can be legally justified.

            If it helps, think about it as though it were a business. An unscheduled outage could cost the business a lot of money, a scheduled outage will be planned to minimise that. What Gary 'caused' is the former wherehas any repairs resulting from a pen testers report would generally fall under the latter.

            Both sides have fucked up, the DoD should have taken security far, far, far more seriously and Gary should never have gone poking around in the first place. The simple fact is though, two fuck-ups do not make a right and complaining about that outages that occurred as a result of his actions shows nothing but a naive view of how the world actually works.

            All that said, I'll say again - I don't think he should be extradited. He was in the UK, so they should try him here especially given the precedents others have referenced. That doesn't however change the fact that the allegations are more or less exactly what I would expect to be levied in these or similar circumstances. It's incredibly simple - if you are doing wrong, don't be surprised when indirect consequences are added to the list (you brought them to light whilst doing wrong, so they will be blamed on you).

            1. Mad Mike

              @Ben Tasker

              If we take the pen tester analogy further.....

              The pen tester is looking at the production system and finds the problem. Do they take the systems down immediately (effectively what they did with Gary), or leave them active (crossing their fingers) and then fix it later at a more convenient time. By their actions in relation to Gary, they are effectively admitting they would take it down immediately (unless they're overplaying it). Therefore, for a production system, it wuold make no difference. So, the outage is a result of the systems lack of security, not a result of who found it.

              The only argument that suggests Gary changed the scenario at all, is that the knowledge the security was rubbish is out in the open, whereas it could be argued for a pen tester, the knowledge is held only by a few, including the pen tester. However, should a defence network rely on the pen tester being a good guy? As has been shown, bad guys have got into all sorts of roles where one would not expect them.

              So, all in all, the downing of the system should be related to the problem, not the method of discovery. If they really were willing to leave the system running to a suitable window, then they are even more stupid than before. Effectively, they're going for the security though obscurity model, which every security engineer knows is rubbish. No, they're simply abusing their position to try and make the case worse. And America wonders why people think their justice system is available to the highest this case, the DoD.

              1. Ben Tasker

                @Mad Mike

                I see what you are saying, but I think you're still missing an important distinction here - Gary was an unauthorised access.

                If a Pen Tester finds it, yes you'd probably cross your fingers (depending on the threat assessment etc.). If someone not authorised to access your system finds it? You take it down. It's that simple, you have no idea what they've done to the other terminals, there may even be malware running.

                So had an authorised Pen Tester found it, they probably would have crossed their fingers whilst they ran costs. But it wasn't a Pen Tester, from their point of view it was a hacker/cracker and their systems were compromised. It's a (supposedly) secure system, and you do not leave a secure system running in use when you suspect compromise.

                To clarify: Gary did not have any authorisation to access their systems. That's what changed the scenario, and if you've worked with secure systems you should know as well as I do that as soon as you find evidence of a compromise (in this case the message Gary left) you isolate the system. If that means that 20,000 systems stop as a result, that is what you do. Security is supposed to be paramount on these systems (though let's be honest, they could've tried harder at an earlier date).

                The downing of a system is partially related to the problem, but make no mistake about it - the method of discovery should always be considered. If someone who appears to be a White-hat tells you about a hole out of the blue, you are at the very least going to isolate the system whilst you run your own security audit.

                What the DoD did before Gary (i.e. not securing their systems) was very bad IT. However, what they did afterwards was entirely by the book for a military system (at least with regards to taking it down)

                That doesn't mean, however, that they aren't trying to make the case worse. But taking the systems offline is one thing that should have happened in that scenario, and it is a consequence of Gary's actions. Although it's an unintended consequence (presumably) so are many other things you can be prosecuted for.

  10. Owen Milton

    My only real objections...

    My only objections in the matter are that:

    He was threatened with a US military trial initially.

    By US definitions he is a terrorist, and the US is a country with an established reputation for sending convicted and suspected terrorists outside the US for "interrogation".

    After 10 years there's going to be no way to dispute the evidence.

    All of his "Great Digital Break In" efforts were only possible due to the complete failure of a US government organization to follow even the most basic of security standards on machines both accessible to the internet and that contained "sensitive" information.

    What he did, amounts to digital vandalism. The equivalent of walking into a house that has it's door swinging wide open and after rummaging through the drawers spray paints "Noob! Lock yer doors! That's why it has locks!" on the walls. It's something you slap someone upside the head for and have them pay reasonable compensation for the damage and suffering. Instead he's facing anything and everything up to over a century in the US prison system.

    1. despairing citizen
      Big Brother

      The real driver for the "original" charge sheet

      probably had more to do with US gov officials trying to make him out as a "super hacker", rather than being victims of their own crass stupidity, at a time when the head of the CIA had just been fired over the WTC attack, and the hill was still looking for heads they could roll.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've always thought it was more of a case of economic burden on his family and support network. Were he sentenced in the UK and imprisoned - it would still be viable for his mum to make visits and see him. It would be easier to coordinate with the lawyer and any others involved.

    Serving time in the US would mean few, if any, visits from any family. Having to coordinate with an American lawyer and with a time difference involved.

    This is not to mention the culture shock (societal norms, unwritten rules) of being amongst people of a different culture - people who just happen to represent the worst of that culture. The harsher prison treatment and the very real threat of rape which will be ignored by the guards.

    It's not so much punishment fitting the crime as where the punishment will take place. I partially agree with one commenter above - there does need to be some fundamental shift in the way laws are applied to the digital age - preferably more lenient. Years before I didn't believe this but recent history shows there is a need for it.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Try him here, get it over with

    If anyone actually wanted to see McKinnon tried they'd have accepted a trial in the UK. They don't, they want to show off at his expense. The charges stopped being relevant long ago.

    1. despairing citizen
      Big Brother

      Computer Misuse Act 1990

      That would be to try him for a crime committed in the UK voilating UK law.

      Unfortunately CPS has refused to do that, despite admitting they have the evidence to do so;

      "Alison Saunders, head of the CPS Organised Crime Division said: "We identified nine occasions where Mr McKinnon has admitted to activity which would amount to an offence under Section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act (unauthorised access with intent). Although there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr McKinnon for these offences, the evidence we have does not come near to reflecting the criminality that is alleged by the American authorities"

  13. VimF

    Blah, blah, I hate America, blah

    There's a frankly idiotic anti-American diatribe going on here, as is always the case with McKinnon (and pretty much every other topic). The same crowd who wanted BT and Phorm hung, drawn and quartered for their behavioural caching think that a targeted take down of 9 domain controllers is "petty vandalism". And logs are just logs... if it's McKinnon destroying the evidence. Imagine if Phorm had tried to destroy it in addition to lying about it?

    The worry I have is that he really wouldn't get a fair trial in the US by now. Arguably he never would have but after so much time has passed it is a given. US law is all about converting time into serious money and there will be several of the usual suspects with significant political capital invested in it, which is a fast track to a summary judgement. For these reasons alone, I don't think he should be extradited and should be tried in the UK. Hopefully a judge will find some way of commuting the maximum life sentence under English law into one more commensurate with the (obviously far more harsh) maximum 10 year one in the US.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... you shouldn't hack the pentagon. Since when does, "I'm going to kill myself if they extradite me" work in the real world? I'm going to rob a bank, then just yell at the cops, when they show up, I'll kill myself if you arrest me... ya, that will work...

    Asperger's is one of the least understood diseases of the mind. If you can call it that. It's really just a bunch of symptoms psycho-boffins clump together to explain really odd folks. Sure, they're austistic-like, but definitely have enough marbles to stand trial, especially if you have enough marbles to hack the pentagon (allegedly). Asperger's can describe a person who is simply overly rigid and terrible at picking up chicks at the bar, all the way to someone that stairs at their hand for an hour, completely entertained or freaks out and tries to hurt themselves when you tell them, "No," after they've already made up their mind the answer is "yes". Furthermore, the court should not be in the business of making decisions as to one's mental stability. That is a matter for a doctor, and is actually a fairly simple assessment (for those with forensic psychology doctorates). The real question is which doctor wants to sacrifice his career for some kid who he said was competent to stand trial, but commits suicide the one moment no one is watching him? Litigious much?

    1. Naughtyhorse


      thats all

  15. Purlieu

    Death Penalty

    I thought we didn't extradite to countries where the death penalty is still used ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or torture evidence

      I seem to remember some EU court or other saying we couldn't do that either.

      1. Naughtyhorse


        but we kinda fucked that up by being one of the countries concerned :-)

    2. david wilson

      >>"I thought we didn't extradite to countries where the death penalty is still used ?"

      Where an alleged crime risks a death sentence, we seek assurances that either a death sentence wouldn't be given, or , if given, wouldn't be carried out.

      Not that that stops some country going back on their word, but if they did, they'd likely crap all over their chances of future extraditions for other serious cases.

      Few people would seem important enough to risk screw up potential future extraditions (and potentially turning a friendly country into a bad-guy haven) over.

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Time served

    It would seem to me that our lad has already been dealt a royal bucket-load of shite for what was, at the heart of it, idiotic and stupid behavior. I really fail to see what extraditing him will do to punish him further.

    Yes, he did cause a lot of "damage" to their computer systems ... but let's face it - if he can hack his way in THAT easily then so could anyone else and it's probably a good job that our clumsy idiot went wandering around and got caught before someone with actual evil intent did.

    And as for the computer damage - what, didn't they have backup? Sure, it's a pain in the butt to have to restore from a backup and get everyone back on line but let's face it, it happens - whether your disasters name is Gary or Katrina ... get over it folks ... move on please.

    1. Bill99

      What 'damage'?

      No, he didn't cause any damage, that's the whole point! He didn't delete anything (bar his own logfiles- hardly system-critical, according to expert testimony) and he didn't shut anything down. The sums quoted neither represent 'damage', nor can they be attributed to McKinnon's activity. All amply illustrated in 2009. The extradition request relies on the now-disproved allegations of damage - hence extradition would not be legal, as there remains no reasonable suspicion that there is any case to answer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What 'damage'?

        "No, he didn't cause any damage, that's the whole point! "

        If McKinnon had not broken into the systems they would not have had to be taken down. It was as a sole result if his alleged illegal activities that they had to be taken offline causing the level of financial loss alleged. Therefore he is the argument goes. I'm not saying the argument is right or not, just that there are two sides to that particular coin too.

        Like everything in life, there are arguments for and against a point of debate. My point is that his guilt or innocence can only be established in the court where the charges rest, not in the UK, nor on this forum.

        This whole mess would have been best sorted out years ago. Even now, he may still win his argument in the US court, but until he faces the charges and a verdict established nothing can be stated as a fact. Time to get it over and done with.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          It was as a sole result if his alleged illegal activities....


          The machines were taken down when the yanks found out how many machines they had on the network with no/piss poor security.

          His activities exposed incompetence on a massive scale.

          The downtime was caused by the moron who set up the network.

          When a popular website goes titsup due to a spike in demand, no one blames the fifty million users trying to access the same page. it's the sysadmins fault for being a dick!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Yes, it maybe bollocks, but to re-iterate my point:

            I'm not saying the argument is right or not, just that there are two sides to that particular coin too.

            Like everything in life, there are arguments for and against a point of debate.

            My point is that his guilt or innocence can only be established in the court where the charges rest, not in the UK, nor on this forum.

            This whole mess would have been best sorted out years ago.

            Even now, he may still win his argument in the US court, but until he faces the charges and a verdict established nothing can be stated as a fact. Time to get it over and done with.

            .....Clear now?

            1. Mad Mike


              Interestingly, according to previous US actions, the charges should be laid in the UK. In the US, charges are laid where the keyboard is and there are plenty of examples for this. So, according to the US, charges should be laid in UK (already been agreed there is enough evidence for a charge or charges) and he should be prosecuted here. So, why are the US trying to extradite him?

              This is the whole problem here. If there is an established set of rules, they should be followed. But, they aren't being here. Hypocracy and changing your mind according to the case/person involved just makes you look silly. They only want him in the US because the penalties are higher and they can peddle these stupid damages claims. So, let's follow the US rules and charge him here, give him a trial here and if guilty, sentence him here. No problem. Extradition simply isn't required. At least, assuming justice is the objective!!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    first they came for the aspies

    then they came for the pirates

    now they are coming for YOU

    1. hplasm

      I wish they would come

      for the trolls.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all good

    As long as McKinnion ends up in a U.S. prison for a long time, it's all good. He admitted hacking so now it's time to man up and take his punishment. This should be a lesson for other hackers who believe they are above the law.

    1. The Alpha Klutz

      what's the point in having laws

      If criminals aren't allowed to consider themselves above them?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why a US prison?

      According to US precedent, computer-based fraud happens in the jurisdiction where the keyboard happens to be.

      Thus jurisdiction for this is in the UK.

      So try him here.

      The hangup appears to be that some high-ups in the US were really, really embarrassed by the events and want blood. The 'damages' are not held up by the evidence either.

      Sorry, but that's about the same as me insisting that a burglar be given a much more severe sentence because I forgot to fit locks to my doors and now I spent money on doing so after somebody waltzed in, read some of my papers and wrote a silly message using my fridge magnets.

      The legal system is not there to cover your embarrassment at doing a poor job.

    3. Naughtyhorse

      above the law...

      gary is not american, where on earth would he get such an idea

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Denial doesn't work well in court

    Even if it did Gary already admitted his hacking. So the only point of contention is will he be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial. The answer is Yes because thet's where the crimes were commited and the U.K. and U.S. have an extradition treaty specifically so criminals can not evade prosecution.

    All of the silly business about his health, etc. should have absolutely no bases in determining if he should be extradited.

  20. Magnus_Pym

    It's all about trust

    Do you trust the US to give him a fair and open trial?

    Special rendition, water boarding, gitmo, friendly fire inquests, Antigua-US WTO dispute, OJ Simpson trial, John Elliot, Linda Carty, Kenny Richie.

This topic is closed for new posts.

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