A self-taught British hacker who broke into 97 US military computers from his north London bedsit will be extradited to the United States after losing his six-year legal fight in the House of Lords.
I have been keeping an eye on this story over the years as I have been quite surprised by his treatment, threats of 70 years in prison and Guatanamo Bay seem a little over the top, but I suppose that is what happens when you are under US jurisdiction.
The two way fast track extradition treaty meant that Gary McKinnon didn’t have a chance of stopping his extradition. This treaty is in reality just a one way fast track, despite the fact that the US did eventually pass their end of it, as the US has to provide no prima facie evidence to support an extradition request, the UK must provide prima facie evidence if it wants a US citizen extradited to Britain. The US was always going to get their man, as that is the nature of the agreement, they need only ask.
The seriousness of this situation seems lost on some people so allow me to spell it out. If the US were to decide, by error or whatever, that I am a terrorist, they need only request my extradiction. They need not provide any evidence to support this request. The only possible way that I would have to fight this would be during my trial in the US. Assuming that I would be allowed one. A decade ago, this perhaps, wouldn’t have been too much of a concern for most Brits, but that was before Guantanamo Bay.
Gary McKinnon, in all likelihood is heading to Guantanamo Bay, and will have to wait quite while for his trial. Possibly even the rest of his life. The US Goverment has provided no evidence for his crimes, they haven’t needed to as per the extradition agreement with Britain.
Which makes me wonder whether they will bother once he’s over there, after all once he is in their system, they can do pretty much whatever they like with him. Just ask Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul.
McKinnon has admitted what he did, but has refuted claims that he brought down defence networks and caused £350,000 worth of damage.
Looking at the evidence I’d have to agree with McKinnon if using a retail remote pc application and a simple Perl script he managed to bring down the computer systems of NASA, US Department of Defence, The Pentagon, The US Army, The US Navy, and the US Airforce. Then quite frankly they needed taking down before the Russians or the Chinese got in. These systems are meant to be the most secure in the world, yet McKinnon managed to get into them without any real knowledge or skill. Either he is lying about his abilities, although all the evidence suggests he isn’t, or the security systems were incredibly lax.
The other big question mark over this is, why, when he was first arrested and the US did need to provide evidence, they didn’t bother? He was arrested in the UK by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, but the CPS refused to charge him. Assuming the NHTCU would have checked his PC throughly, why didn’t they find enough evidence to prosecute?
There’s no doubt that McKinnon is guilty and has gotten off a little to lightly, but 70 years in prison? He should serve time, and if he cannot be guaranteed not to be sent to Guantanamo Bay, not to be tortured and not to spend the rest of his life in prison, they he should be tried in the UK, where he will recieve a punishment that fits the crime, a couple of years at most.