Gary McKinnon to avoid U.S. extradition? #freegary

By Richi Jennings. May 21, 2010.

Gary McKinnon may have his extradition refused by the new UK government. The British alleged hacker is a wanted man in the U.S. for computer breakins at NASA, while hunting for aliens. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers blog a trans-Atlantic war of words.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention, well, #freegary...

    John Leyden reminds us:

Gary McKinnon ... was first arrested by UK police in 2002 over attacks on US military systems back in 2001. But extradition proceedings only began in 2005, after a controversial extradition treaty between the UK and US came into effect. ... While in opposition, cabinet ministers ... supported the campaign against the extradition.


His supporters have called on authorities to try McKinnon in the UK, if anywhere, during a long-running campaign. ... In a significant development, McKinnon's lawyers have written to the court requesting the cancellation of this hearing pending a Cabinet Office ruling.

John E. Dunn is not done with this story (or with run-on sentences):

While there has always been a clear case for McKinnon to answer, the whole affair has been a massive over-reaction to an offence that became a pointless battle of wills between a hardline US administration and a UK government that decided to hide behind how lawyers and judges interpreted the one-sided 2003 UK Extradition Act.


I suspect that the ‘new politics’ rhetoric will win the day and McKinnon will be tried in the UK in the face of an Obama administration that in all truth probably couldn’t care less.

Nick Farrell brings on the snark:

The Brits have been jolly good at handing over people who the US has been accused of being bad guys but the US on the other hand is not so keen to extradite the people the British say have been naughty.

Grant Lawrence dons the tinfoil chapeau:

[He] is being painted by the US government as the most dangerous hacker of all time. ... Mckinnon says that it was quite easy to hack into US government computers and he is no genius.


What is making the US government so adamant about bringing Mckinnon to justice in the US? Maybe it is because Gary Mckinnon spilled the beans on what he saw and he shouldn’t have. ... Mckinnon has said ... that the US has advanced Space Fleets that are capable of star travel. He has never backed down from his assertions.

Mark Ballard notes that the U.S. can't have it both ways:

Enshrined in ... the 2003 Extradition Act ... was the principle that the US and UK were so closely aligned in history, politics and law, that each could trust their own citizen's to the retribution of the other's judicial system. The [new UK government] had wanted to rewrite the extradition act because it overlooked the trust that one country might invest in another by allowing it to prosecute one of its own citizen's on its behalf.

Rob Jonson questions the very basis of the U.S. complaint:

Under the new 'fast track' extradidion, a British court never gets to consider whether there is evidence to justify the charge. ... Although Gary admits that he hacked the computers, the key point is what level of damage he did. There is a strong implication that the damage numbers were concocted in order to meet the threshhold required to justify extradition.


In order for the extradition to work, the US have to state damages above a certain level. ... The $700k damages alleged were simply concocted to meet this level. Given that Gary hacked into computers that just had the default windows password set - and that the damage was calculated by figuring the cost to audit and fix this breach ... this should have been done anyway. ... Gary doesn't get to make that argument until after extradition.

But Sharon K. Gaudin couldn't agree less:

So an admitted hacker shouldn't have to face the consequences? ... If he attacked systems in the U.S., it makes sense to try him in the U.S.

Thus spake Gandalf_the_Beardy

The UK already has adequate laws for the prosecution of the crime ... the crime was committed in the UK so it has always seemed odd ... especially with the massive imbalance in potential sentence between the UK and US. ... I rather suspect that that imbalance is what causes many people much disquiet.

And rainmouse waxes asymmetrically:

It is a very unbalanced extradition treaty the UK has with the US. ... [It] allows the USA to force the extradition of a British citizen without offering any evidence and also removes a British citizen's right to even appeal. ... Strictly a one way process as all US citizens are fully protected by the US constitution.

And Finally...
Dan Bull's take

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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