Hacker Protected by UK Government - Consumer Justice Foundation

Hacker Protected by UK Government

Written by Faith Anderson on October 18, 2012
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May Rules Hacker’s Extradition Would Be “Incompatible” With Human Rights

Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to deny the United States extradition of McKinnon – which has been called “an incredibly brave decision” by one man – is based on her belief that the computer hacker is “seriously ill.” According to May, the extradition order against McKinnon should be withdrawn because his depressive illness and Asperger’s syndrome means “there is such a high risk of him ending his own life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with his human rights.” Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder characterized by difficulties in social interactions, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Because of his diagnosed disorder, psychiatrists who examined McKinnon claimed there was a risk he would commit suicide if extradited to the United States, where he would face charges on seven counts of computer fraud and related activity. If convicted, the 46-year-old would have faced a $250,000 fine and a maximum of seventy years in prison – ten years for each count. Instead, the UK director of public prosecutions will determine whether McKinnon should face trial in a UK court.

McKinnon’s Lawyer Claims He Has Suffered Enough

In response to May’s ruling, McKinnon’s attorney claimed it was “a great day for British justice,” and hopes that UK prosecutors “might consider that Gary has suffered enough,” which is interesting considering the hacker has been free on bail throughout the entire decade-long extradition process. McKinnon remained at liberty without restriction following his 2002 attack on U.S. military computers, until June 2005, when he became subject to bail conditions, including the requirement that he must sign in at his local police station every evening and remain at his home address at night. So, McKinnon’s lawyer would have us believe that because McKinnon hasn’t been allowed to spend the night away from his home, he has “suffered enough” for executing the biggest military computer hack of all time and costing the U.S. government close to $1 million. The U.S. government is sure to disagree with that notion.

McKinnon’s Alleged U.S. Hacking Crimes

For their part, authorities in the United States claim that McKinnon is trying desperately to downplay his own actions, which allegedly include the following:

  • Deleting critical files from operating systems, which eventually shut down the U.S. Army’s Military District of Washington’s network of 2,000 computers for a 24-hour period
  • Posting a notice on the military’s website reading, “Your security is crap.”
  • Deleting weapons logs at the Earle Naval Weapons Station after the September 11 attacks, disabling its network of 300 computers and paralyzing munitions supply deliveries for the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet
  • Copying data, passwords and account data onto his own computer
  • Leaving the following threat on one computer: “U.S. 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…”
  • Costing the U.S. over $700,000 in costs related to tracking and correcting the problems

These are the actions of an intelligent, knowledgeable and malicious computer hacker with anti-American intentions, not the incapable, schizophrenic, and potentially suicidal Asperger’s victim that McKinnon, his lawyer and May are making him out to be.

UK Outlines New Extradition Proposals

In fighting against McKinnon’s extradition, his lawyer complained that, throughout the past ten years, the United States has never provided evidence to prosecutors or McKinnon’s defense team to support its extradition request. Unfortunately for her, Britain’s Extradition Act of 2003 indicates that U.S. prosecutors are not required to do so. However, because critics have long argued that Britain’s extradition policies deny its citizens the opportunity to face a court in their own country before they are extradited to another, May outlined on October 16 a series of proposals intended to make the extradition process with the United States and within the European Union faster and more transparent. Included in the proposals is a so-called “forum bar,” which indicates that “where prosecution is possible in both the UK and in another state, the British courts will be able to bar prosecution overseas, if they believe it is in the interests of justice to do so.”

Posted Under: Editorial
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