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Talk to me about the Gary McKinnon case

(82 Posts)
Bumperslucious Fri 31-Jul-09 20:08:00

Article here. Chap with Aspergers is to be extradited for hacking into US Government/Military computers. Many people are up in arms about this and I am not sure what the main problem is. Is it:

1) That he shouldn't be extradited because he has Aspergers?
2) That he didn't really commit a crime?
3) That he didn't commit a crime in the US so why extradite him? I wonder if international laws are going to have to adapt to the Internet Age where locations can be remote from the crime.
4) That apparently the extradition agreement between the US is one sided (I don't know enough about it).
5) That he was just 'harmlessly' looking for UFO stuff, so intent was not malicious.

I would appreciate someone explaining the situation to me because as far as I can see the guy hacked in to Government classified files in the US which is illegal. Presumably his Aspergers doesn't mean he cannot understand right and wrong, and the fact that he was just a 'UFO hunter' is neither here or there, he broke the law. I'm not sure what to think?

MrsMuddle Fri 31-Jul-09 20:18:05

I think the crux of it is that the legislation that allows for a person to commit a crime here and be tried in the US was set up specifically for acts of terrorism after 9/11.

Extradition would normally apply, if, for example, he lived here but had committed a crime in the US.

I don't think he is arguing that he hasn't committed a crime - only that he has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers.

That's my understanding, anyway.

LovingtheSilverFox Fri 31-Jul-09 20:23:26

As I understand it, although I may be wrong, the US haven't ratified their side of the agreement yet. This means that (technically) they wouldn't have to reciprocate if someone hacked into our systems.

pagwatch Fri 31-Jul-09 20:28:28

it is pretty annoyingthat the states just ask and we will sling one of our subjects overthere when they rarely agree to extradition of theirs.
And his aspergers may have made him less clear inhis understanding of what he was doing and his 'focus' ( obsession) upon his objective may have made him less able to stop himself.

But more pertinently his condition will make the experience of being extradited away from his family and routine and support network much much harder for him to cope with.
This is cruel and unusual treatment IMO - and he is being sent to a country with little compassion for defendants with SN, LDs or mental issues . They are happy to execute children so why we would send any of our citizens there for anything other than violent crime escapes me.

luckylady74 Fri 31-Jul-09 20:29:29

To an extent Aspergers can mean his understanding of right and wrong is very very different to yours or mine.
The local police gave him a warning and let him go - so very different.
The US are making an example of him- very different treatment of people who have done this in the past.
Look on the national autistic society website for info.

ilovemydogandmrobama Fri 31-Jul-09 20:35:02

There is an issue that the US waited until the new extradition treaty was signed (don't know date) and think there was a gap of a couple of years which means that he wasn't such a security threat.

Seems to me that he is a huge embarrassment for US as he managed to hack into top security computers.

The other issue is that if found guilty, there is the potential for him to be sentenced to life imprisonment, which is disproportionate.

Bumperslucious Fri 31-Jul-09 20:56:11

Thanks for the replies.

I suppose it is clear that there was no malintention, but as to whether he committed a crime in the US or here I think is something that is eventually going to have to come up for legal debate, if not in this case then in others. Yes he was sat in the UK but the servers were in the US. Otherwise if you wanted to commit cyber crime you could just pick the most lenient country and do it from there.

You guys are right about the mental illness though. I am a bit black and white about things usually when it comes to the law, but weighing up the intention behind the crime vs the potential for harm to the accused it does seem a bit harsh.

bobbysmum07 Fri 31-Jul-09 22:05:30

His Aspergers was very conveniently diagnosed after he was caught doing the crime.

I've no sympathy for him. He did the crime and he now needs to stop whinging and face the music.

UFO hunting indeed.

TimothyTigerTuppennyTail Fri 31-Jul-09 22:09:33

I think the main point is that the people supporting him want him to face the music, but in this country as would happen for other crimes.

bobbysmum07 Fri 31-Jul-09 22:16:51

He didn't commit a crime against this country though, did he?

SomeGuy Fri 31-Jul-09 22:20:29

I'm not really sure the relevance of Aspergers TBH. Plenty of people have it, it doesn't excuse wrongdoing.

Probably shouldn't be extradited though.

luckylady74 Sat 01-Aug-09 08:54:01

So you really think what is classed as a mental disability has no relevance to the case?

I know plenty of families who receive higher rate disability living allowance because their child's condition (aspergers) is so disabling.

Yes plenty of people have it- doesn't make it a 'mild' condition in terms of social disability.Of course it's very different to classic autism, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be classed as a disability.

Lots of people are diagnosed as adults still- my ds1 was unusual at the time when he was dx at the age of 4- the average age was 7 at the time and a few years before that the average age was 10.

UFOs are a load of tosh to me too, but a lot of people believe in them and take it very seriously.

He is a very small vulnerable pawn in a big political game.

It's very hard sometimes to feel sympathetic towards people with Aspergers because of some of the anti-social aspects of the condition which is why imvho we must.

muffle Sat 01-Aug-09 09:03:08

Aspergers aside, what worries me about this is the vindictive and kafka-esque nature of the US state machinery once it identifies an enemy (look at guantanamo, and their long history of persecuting communists, anti-war campaigners, etc.) I would be fighting not to extradite him just to make sure he is tried somewhere a little more sane. Not that the UK is perfect in that respect (increasingly less so of course) but I'd really worry about how he could be victimised over there.

The US should really be sending him a bouquet and a big thank you for showing them just how weak their "secure" systems were. But instead they are approaching this with typical humourlessness.

I hope Obama will see sense and step in.

luckylady74 Sat 01-Aug-09 09:57:59

I do think muffle that the US are choosing to make an example of him so they can say they're hot on threats to their security. A man looking for ufos in his bedroom in the uk is not the right eg to choose.

Kayzr Sat 01-Aug-09 10:29:38

I have got to agree with Bobbysmum. He commited a crime and he needs to be punished for it.

StinkyFart Sat 01-Aug-09 10:32:16

A man with MH issues is vulnerable; so the Americans are exploiting his naivete

Snorbs Sat 01-Aug-09 10:57:52

"The US should really be sending him a bouquet and a big thank you for showing them just how weak their "secure" systems were."

Hmm, so if you left a window open in your home, someone crept in while you slept and then left a note in your underwear drawer saying "I was here", would you send them a big bouquet and a thank-you note?

campion Sat 01-Aug-09 11:09:36

Excellent posts, luckylady74.

Nothing like picking on an easy target,eh? And this from the ' Land of the Free' - ( certain categories excepted).

pagwatch Sat 01-Aug-09 11:17:53

ah. Another thread where I am grateful to be reminded ofthe breathtaking level of ignorance about issues surrounding ASD.

Of course his aspergers is relevent. The convenience of his diagnosis is neither here not there - the fact that he was studiously UFO hunting as a grwon man in his mums bedrooms shows that he has very different levels of understanding to mainstream population. But expecting sympathy from the fuckwit hang 'em brigade is probably a stretch.
A woman with PND shop lifting is usually given understanding but a man with a condition that can seriously affect his perception of the world should face life in a US prison.
His lack of any real inderstanding of the consequences of what he was doing is illustrated by the fact that he left messages telling the US authorities what he was doing - and that he believes he actually has found evidence of UFO's - a smoking gun of evidence in his opinion.

The USA are just making themseleve look like moronic bullies. He should be prosecuted here and should be punished accordingly. I don't think anyone has an issue with that. But when we frequently get told that we are unable to deport murederers and terriorists why are we rolling over so spectacularly for a man with SN who didn't actually hurt anyone.
As a nation we should stop being quite so subservient to the USA.we just look so impotent and spineless

bobbysmum07 Sat 01-Aug-09 14:04:36

I don't believe he's got Aspergers. And I don't believe he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

It's just a ploy - a tactic used by his defence team (and his mother) - to make people feel sorry for him.

edam Sat 01-Aug-09 14:10:48

I feel very sorry for Gary McKinnon and his family. But apart from the individuals involved, this case exposes yet again the injustice of our extradition arrangements with the US. They no longer have to provide any evidence before a UK court - just say 'we want him' and our government and judicial system obligingly ship our citizens over. Oddly enough it doesn't work in reverse.

Horrible legacy of Blair's crush on Bush, IMO.

Extradition should only be used for serious crimes that cannot be prosecuted in this country. Gary M was on British soil, he should be prosecuted here.

SomeGuy Sat 01-Aug-09 14:13:52

he did more than look for UFOs, he hacked in to 97 computers, and " deleted critical files from operating systems, which shut down the US Army’s Military District of Washington network of 2,000 computers for 24 hours, as well as deleting US Navy Weapons logs, rendering a naval base's network of 300 computers inoperable after the September 11th terrorist attacks"

He caused destruction, no different to setting cars on fire or any other kind of vandalism.

And is very common for hackers to tell people what they are doing, they like the attention, it's done as a badge of honour, it's similar to graffiti aritsts putting their tag everywhere. The only thing they have got is respect from their fellow hackers, it's hardly a surprising he tagged it. As for grown men looking for UFOs, he was fucking with computer systems more than anything else, and there are plenty of grown men that are interested in UFOs, there are also plenty of grown men with beer mat collections/stamp collections/whatever, that doesn't make it ok to attack people's computer.

It's obvious to anybody that hacking into the US military is going to get you into trouble, and if he wanted sympathy, he should have stuck with the 'look, don't touch' principle.

foxinsocks Sat 01-Aug-09 14:15:26

yeah I agree with edam. It's a one way street with us and the US. They want something, we give it to them. We want something and we end up getting nothing.

Bet they end up using him over there for their own purposes.

edam Sat 01-Aug-09 15:22:21

the world was probably marginally safer over that 24 hour period...

Whatever, if he committed a crime while on British soil, he should be prosecuted HERE. Has the US ever handed over a computer hacker to any other country for trial? Doubt it.

pagwatch Sat 01-Aug-09 16:33:10

"there are plenty of grown men that are interested in UFOs, there are also plenty of grown men with beer mat collections/stamp collections/whatever, that doesn't make it ok to attack people's computer."

and the majority of them do so as a hobby. They are not compulsive and driven to do so as someone with aspergers may be.

My son collects DVDs. So do thousands of people. He also opens and shuts them compulsively, places them in an order that is meaningless to anyone else but him yet is driven by some logic we can't quite fathom, has tantrums if anyone touches them and can recall exactly the order in which they were bought dating back to when he was about 5. His lack of language and comprehension means that he has very little understanding of what is happening in most of them. Grown men also collect DVDs. That does not mean that they and my son are to be judged by the same standard .

Except maybe it does if you agree with the american judicial system?

So it may be apparent to anybody that hacking into the US military will get you into trouble and yet had managed to pass Gary McKinnon by.

So no. Not really the same thing at all

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