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The Courts United Kingdom Politics

In UK, Hacker Demands New Government Block Extradition 349

Stoobalou writes "Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon has called on the newly elected British government to put its money where its mouth is and tear up his extradition order. US prosecutors have been trying to get McKinnon before a New Jersey court for seven years after they caught him hacking into US military and NASA computers looking for evidence of UFOs. David Cameron, the newly elected prime minister, and Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, had both voiced their support for McKinnon's campaign against extradition. Other ministers in the coalition government had branded the extradition unjust. Clegg had even joined McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, on a protest march."
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In UK, Hacker Demands New Government Block Extradition

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  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @05:21AM (#32250260) Homepage

    Expecting politicians to turn vague electioneering rhetoric into actual action.

    McKinnons case will be quietly shuffled off to some under secretary to "look into" and once the media have lost interest he'll be on a plane to Dulles.

    • McKinnons case will be quietly shuffled off to some under secretary to "look into" and once the media have lost interest he'll be on a plane to Dulles.

      I think he's got a good chance. Both guys ran on a platform of not being quite so much america's lap dog. McKinnon's case has had some serious publicity, killing his extradition would be a great symbolic gesture, enabling them to continue being america's lap dog where it really counts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xest ( 935314 )

        I think it's telling how quickly Obama jumped on the chance to congratulate David Cameron, and get Clinton to send the new foreign secretary over to the US after the coalition decision was made when taken in the context of how the Obama has treated Britain since he became president- he's basically shunned the UK, despite the old government bending over backwards for them.

        I think Obama is actually concerned that the new administration will in fact stand up for itself, and recognises that the US wont get such

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jez9999 ( 618189 )

          This is probably partly to do with the fact that large parts of the main coalition party, the Conservatives, are quite xenophobic and are still living under the delusion Britain rules the world.

          For any Americans reading this, this statement is utterly retarded and completely false. The Conservatives are nothing like this. They weren't even really like it 30 years ago.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      And if it happens and goes quietly, it will be our fault as much as the medias.
  • Parties in opposition frequently seem to criticise what the government does for the sake of it. Is this just another case of "now its business as usual" or did they really believe in what they were saying and ensure that legislation brought in to counter terrorism [] isn't used randomly against British citizens.
  • by Gandalf_the_Beardy ( 894476 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @05:26AM (#32250286)

    Whilst it's undeniable I think that he did actual do it, there are a lot of people that cannot see why he should be extradited. The UK already has adaquate laws for the prosecution of the crime, and the crime was committed in the UK so it has always seemed odd to a lot of people that he should have been extradited, especially with the massive imbalance in potential sentence between the UK and US for this. I rather suspect that that imbalance is what causes many people much disquiet.

    Cameron is not going to be too concerned either way one suspects, although he will probably lean towards not extraditing him. Clegg however as a hard and a fast Liberal is almost certainly going to move all that he can to ensure he is not extradited. The one person to consider though in all this is Kenneth Clarke, whos is the Justice Secretary. He has interesting views - he once called Camerons plans for a British Bill of Rights "Xenophobic and a legal nonsensity". Quite what his feelings are on the extradition - and he gets the ultimate say as Justice Minister are as yet unknown. From what little I know of him personally I suspect he would favour prosecution in the UK but for all that his views are relatively unknown.

    • by VJ42 ( 860241 ) *

      he once called Camerons plans for a British Bill of Rights "Xenophobic and a legal nonsensity".

      To clarify the parent, that's because Cameron was proposing repealing the act that gave the ECHR [] legal force in the UK courts (the Human rights act 1998 []).

    • and the crime was committed in the UK

      Ahh, but that's the messy part. Was the crime really committed in the UK? After all the servers were physically in the US.

      Going to over simplify this but lets assume you have an house and your house is beside the border of France and Spain. Lets also assume that border is only 1inch wide and you have a window facing that border. I throw a brick and smash your window, where was the offence committed?
      After all throwing a brick isn't illegal, it was only when it hit your window it became a crime but your win

      • Actually the crime is committed the moment that you throw the brick provided it meets the tests in the Criminal Damage act. (assuming UK law here). By the time the glass is smashed then you have committed the offence.
        • If I miss and no damage is caused it's not a crime, you could argue intent but that's a different topic.

          After writing I did have another thought, He did break UK law, he also broke US law. Due to the nature of the internet he was able to break the laws in 2 countries at the sametime. So in theory he should be tried and sentenced in the UK, then after he has served his sentence in the UK, he should be deported to be tried and sentenced in the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug ( 175151 )

      The crime was committed FROM the UK, upon computer systems residing on US soil.

      If he didn't want to be punished, why did he volunteer for it by committing the crime? No sympathy here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nacturation ( 646836 ) *

      The UK already has adaquate laws for the prosecution of the crime, and the crime was committed in the UK

      Was it? I'm sure there is case law to deal with these instances, but one argument is that typing occurred in the UK but hacking occurred in the US. The last time we had this discussion, I proposed the following thought experiment:

      A French person with a rifle shoots across the France/Germany border and kills a German. In which country did the murder occur?

    • by rainmouse ( 1784278 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:33AM (#32250664)
      The principle of the matter is that it is a very unbalanced extradition treaty the UK has with the US. A fast track extradition policy that allows the USA to force the extradition of a British citizen without offering any evidence and also removes a British citizens right to even appeal this decision. This by the way is strictly a one way process as all US citizens are fully protected by the US constitution. Of course they even get to choose what state to extradite them to where they can take advantage of varying laws and sentencing. I believe this was an errata added in 2006 but don't quote me on that.

      This is what happened to the NatWest Three, a UK based offence against a UK bank. Of course they were extradited to Texas where it was felt they could hit them with more offences for longer sentencing and with an easier conviction (of course there is a huge tinfoil hat conspiracy regarding using these as fall guys in a forced plea bargain to cover up Bush administration involvement in the Enron scandal but that is an argument for another day)

      • Besides, there's an argument that extradition to the US would be against his human rights, since the US uses the death penalty.
    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @09:00AM (#32251604)

      "I rather suspect that that imbalance is what causes many people much disquiet."

      Actually, I suspect it's largely patriotism. No one wants to see one of their citizens handed over to a foreign power with no worthwhile favour in return, and yet, that's exactly what the Labour government was proposing.

      I'd wager this has been fed by the fact we've got some of our soldiers dying in a war, that, once you cut away the rhetoric, really had fuck all to do with us, and made us less secure in that we're not as much a target as the US- prior to that, we weren't really a target for Islamic terorism because we were so tolerant of islamic communities. It's further not helped by the fact that when the US manages to kill some of our soldiers in a friendly fire "accident" (I wouldn't call it an accident, I'd call it incompetence) they refuse to assist in the coroners investigation by witholding the gun cameras. Add to this the threats of withdrawing security cooperation with us when our courts wanted to release evidence of our secure services being complicit in torture of British citizens by US forces and you begin to see why there is such a backlash.

      Probably, if the US hadn't been so difficult over so many things over the last decade, despite us giving them something that can't really have a value put on it - the blood and lives of our soldiers in support of their war - then they could've gotten away with this extradition and a lot of people wouldn't have even batted an eyelid at the case.

      But no that didn't happen, and so people in the UK have simply had enough, and McKinnon has become the catalyst for which people are standing up and demanding that our government starts saying no to the US.

  • by thephydes ( 727739 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @05:32AM (#32250324)
    The treaty was written and signed to combat terrorism. Is he a terrorist? I doubt it. Is it worth the cost to get him to the US to be tried? I doubt that too. For fuck sake go after the real terrorists rather than a misguided individual with a mental disorder who believes in aliens. FFS the US should be thanking him for finding security flaws and not selling them to someone else. In this case I say FUCK THE TREATY!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

      The treaty was written and signed to create terrorism

      There, fixed that for ya.

      Look up “terrorism”. It’s the act of creating terror. And such fearmongering is the exact point of the whole operation.

  • Ok, first off, this "hacker" with aspergers, if I remember correctly, used a 56k modem, while being constantly high, to scan for windows boxes with blank passwords.... And the US wants to hang him high? Car analogy incoming: If you leave your car (computer system) on the internet (imagine Cuidad Jaurez) with its window down (ports open, blank passwords), and someone comes along and replicates the iPod in your car, still leaving your iPod there, is it really that bad? As for the things he found, he said th

    • Ah correction, it appears "he did admit he may have deleted some government files by accidentally pressing the wrong key"

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982