McKinnon loses appeal

Gary McKinnon - truth From 30.07.08:

NASA hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his appeal against extradition to the US. Five Law Lords have unanimously rejected his argument that plea bargaining by US prosecutors undermined his human rights

US prosecutors are seeking his extradition. McKinnon has opposed the move and appealed it through the courts, eventually reaching the UK's highest court, the House of Lords.

McKinnon claimed that he was told that he would serve a three to four year sentence with less than a year in a low security US jail before being allowed to serve the remainder in the UK if he pleaded guilty and did not oppose extradition.

If he opposed extradition and did not plead guilty he would receive a sentence of eight to ten years at a high security US jail with no repatriation, he was told.

McKinnon's legal team argued that the size of the disparity between these two sentences put McKinnon under such pressure to plead guilty that it interfered with his human rights, and put him under impermissible pressure to surrender his legal rights, particularly his right to contest extradition.

The Law Lords rejected that argument. "In one sense all discounts for pleas of guilty could be said to subject the defendant to pressure, and the greater the discount the greater the pressure," said Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood in the ruling. "But the discount would have to be very substantially more generous than anything promised here before it constituted unlawful pressure such as to vitiate the process.

Okay, I except that part at least: for the plea bargain to be justifiably considered unfair - to the point of infringing McKinnon's human rights - the disparity between sentences would need to be a good deal greater.  Otherwise, McKinnon's argument against his extradition appears fanciful to say the least.  But does he really deserve to be extradited?

Well, according to the PC Pro blog:

Let’s get this straight, Gazza did it. There’s no second gunman lurking, he wasn’t framed by the mob, nobody forced, threatened or otherwise made him hack into US military computers. He was bored and decided to peek up America’s skirt. 97 times.

Happily though, Gazza, the cheeky little scamp he is, decided that merely hacking into their machines wasn’t enough and also left mocking little messages critiquing US foreign policy, which is a bit like kicking a big, angry bear in the bottom and then sticking your head in its mouth when it doesn’t immediately bite your foot off.

And if you were left in any doubt as to their feelings on McKinnon:

.....Gary McKinnon is going to be extradited and deserves it.

This battle shouldn’t be fought over McKinnon, he doesn’t deserve the attention, but my sense is that sooner or later somebody will come along who does, and then hopefully, all these headlines will be justified.”



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I have concerns about this case, specifically surrounding the US indication that this will probably be dealt with under anti-terror laws. Considering the US hard-line stance on terrorism (Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan etc.) had they truly believed it an act of terrorism they would not have sought to broker a deal with McKinnon that would have seen him serve a very small sentence and be repatriated?

    Could this not be a reaction to the embarrassment faced by the US Government over just how easy it allegedly was to get into military computers? Especially given the time that McKinnon's crimes took place (a country under attack, with a new administration trying to convince its citizens that it will protect them).

  3. Yeah you've got a good point there. The US probably want to secure his hacking skills for their own purposes.


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