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Should Gary McKinnon be extradited to the USA? (Poll Closed)


  • Anon - 11 years ago

    This case is simply ridiculous to have gone to the extremes it has just to cover up information that tax payers like myself have paid for. Quite frankly I want to know why I'm paying for things like Area 51 (regardless if weapon testing, dead space alien storage, human cloning, time travel, communicating with interdiminsional creatures they call clockwork elves etc....) or why Donald Rumsfeld denies any knowledge of building 7 that collapsed on 9/11 without any plane hitting it before I'd even consider this mentally ill man being extradited while real terrorists get diplomatic immunity from being arrested for mass murder in the UK.

  • NW Sheffield News - 14 years ago

    Would be fantastic if she wins. Not just to get rid of Straw, but to show that issues can still matter. All the best to her for My 6th. Good luck to her son too.

  • hussain mehdi - 14 years ago

    This is the same government of britain, that has been providing shelter and asylum to none-British altaf...a pakistani national for years. This is the same terrorist altaf, who has 71 cases against him in his own country including 31 cases of murder and 11 attempts to murder.

    The terrorist altaf cannot be extradited from britain under British law,
    But, Garry McKinnon can be,

    Is this an open discrimination or western democracy???
    Is this greed or loyalty???
    Is this a shame or honor???

  • JB - 14 years ago

    He should be tried in US and face consequence like any adult.

    Case 1: The UFO stuff is nonsense. It doesnt matter why he hacked. He hacked and that is a crime

    Case 2: No sympathies for XXXX syndromes. Having syndromes is not a passport to do crime. If the syndromes are so much of a concern - he should have thought about it before committing the crime

    Case 3: Hacking itself is a crime. Unauthorized access can be prosecuted. And as regards the real damage - let the parties prove it in court

    Case 4: I am sure the guys in charge of security of those systems had to face the music. However that doesnt mean this guy did not do a crime.

    Case 5: That doesn't mean he did not commit a crime

    Case 6: It you cannot do the time - do not do the crime.
    Hacking like this is more a case of getting lucky - than real talent. US can hire a lot better experts if they want.

  • Andyroo - 14 years ago

    No, for 6 Reasons:

    Case 1: Gary McKinnon doesn’t deserve to be extradited because he was searching for evidence of UFOs. If the US Government didn’t find out he hacked into NASA and the pentagon, we could be a bit further ahead in Extra-Terrestrial research.

    Case 2: We know that Gary McKinnon has a bad case of Aspergers Syndrome. But his case of it leaves him to vulnerable to be tried at court. If he goes to jail, he’ll probably die there.

    Case 3: Gary McKinnon may have put some Anti-America messages on the homepage of the pentagon, but apart from that, he did no real damage, so why should he be extradited?

    Case 4: If McKinnon is taken to court for trial, then the IT manager should to. McKinnon admitted when he hacked into NASA and the Pentagon, there were no passwords and no firewalls stopping him.

    Case 5: Think yourselves as lucky. Gary McKinnon, a guy who was curious about UFOs is about to be extradited. It could be an Arabian terrorist working for Osama Bin Laden’s organization Al Qaeda.

    Case 6: If Gary McKinnon is extradited, he should at least be made the most of. Instead of imprisonment (Where he’d probably die) the Pentagon could employ him and use his talents for good. He could protect them from serious hackers and terrorist groups in the future.

  • Dan Greenberg - 14 years ago

    There is a good and valid debate about the following:
    1) Do you prosecute where the crime was perpetrated (the UK) or committed (the US)? In a flat world, this is a difficult issue unless/until there is an international norm on what constitutes a cyber crime.

    2) Should he be extradited under a treaty which did not exist at the time of the crime? What level of probable cause must be demonstrated?

    There is NOT a valid debate on the following:
    1) He has Aspergers and therefore should somehow be excused. His attorneys have said this. The ramifications of this defence are too horrible to contemplate.

    2) The US justice system is somehow less fair or more vindictive than the UK system. While this may or may not be true, it is not grounds for preventing extradition. Rather, it is grounds for negotiating limits to penalties. For instance, European countries will extradite murderers once they have obtained a guarantee that the prosecution will not seek the death penalty. Using the argument that "our system is more fair" defeats extradition altogether and leaves the world open to havens for any/all sorts of criminals, including violent ones.

    3) He did no harm and he walked through a security hole. OK, this is a completely fallacious argument. Let me demonstrate:
    3a) You left the door to your flat unlocked. Person X walked in, had a look through your desk and private papers. X did not take anything, although X copied down a few of your bank account numbers. X got caught before s/he could use your account numbers for identity theft. By the logic espoused by many, X should not be prosecuted... especially if he's mentally ill and says he's really sorry. Rather, you should hire X as a consultant to explain to you how to lock your door.
    3b) For a long time, the defence of a rapist was "she asked for it" by wearing alluring clothing. In fact, there was a view that a woman should "lay back and enjoy it" so that no physical harm would come to her. Can you see how some of the highly dated arguments here are entirely consistent with what is being argued in defence of this character?

    So -- let's all stay on the debate of valid legal points. The rest is just silliness or desperation by the Defence.

  • Wooden Nickle - 14 years ago

    The first thing he did wrong was cause embarrassment by hacking into a "secure" site. We are only hearing about what was released as "news". That doesn't tell us what he really did. They claim he disrupted their systems, but we only have their word for it! When an entity such as NASA is caught off guard, they tend to inflate what really happened. I doubt that he really found anything of interest about UFO's, as they look the other way due to the fact that UFO's are way beyond their control. The USA really doesn't need to be spending millions on something this stupid!

  • Alphaman - 14 years ago

    I can't believe what I'm reading here! Supposed security personnel are advocating that this cracker should be exonerated, not extradited to the country where he broke the law, be applauded for breaking into government civilian and military systems, even given a job in sensitive security offices?? This is patent nonsense! You do NOT reward crackers!! NEVER.

    Whether this chap was looking for UFOs or stealing credit card numbers, he broke into systems. I don't care if everyone here thinks he was loopy for claiming government conspiracies about little green men -- he broke into computer systems. And while I admire and agree with the arguments against the death penalty, is this crime even punishable by death? I say red herring.

    As TG so properly noted, if this were a Yank who'd cracked MI5, would this be a question? Pointing at Guantanamo and saying the US isn't capable of a fair trial conveniently forgets British history and the UK's role in Iraq and with extraordinary rendition. This guy isn't an "enemy combatant", would not be a military prisoner, but broke US Federal law, admitted as much, and will be tried by a normal civilian court of law. "Guantanamo" is a strawman.

    Every UK court up to this point has said "extradite" -- it wasn't until he was diagnosed to have Asperger's that the extradition was halted. Being familiar with Asperger's, it does NOT impact your ability to distinguish legal from illegal activities -- it affects interpersonal relationships. Use of this tack is an appeal to emotions.

    The only argument I see having any logical merit is that against the retroactive application of a new law, i.e., that allowing extradition. Follow that argument and you might be able to keep this criminal in the UK, but I kinda doubt it, as all the courts so far have said otherwise.

  • Lorribot - 14 years ago

    Have the US actually detailed the $1m of damage he caused. Did cause a satillite to crash or something?

    He should tried for any crime he commited under UK law in a UK court, in the same way if travel to a country and comit a crime you can be tried in the UK even if there was no law broken in the country you visited, his predates the stupid US extradition treaty law and should take precendent.

  • Adam - 14 years ago

    This man managed to get into supposedly secure systems with the commerical available product PC Anywhere. No passwords, no firewalls, no nothing!
    It seems to me that the deeply embarrassed US government wants to use him as a scapegoat for their lack of security measures.

    I'm not saying he isn't guilty because he is and he's admitted to it but he should face trial by his peers in the UK.

  • Justice - 14 years ago

    Extradite the b*****d as a lesson to all the other criminals! I hope he get 30 years!

  • Estragon - 14 years ago

    He is a UK citizen and should be tried here, if he has broken UK law. Extraditing him implies that our Government is not prepared to protect its citizens. If found guilty of any UK offence he could be offered a job in one of the cyber-related government departments as a way of making retribution.

  • Roger - 14 years ago

    No doubt he was a naughty boy. However, for those of us that remember the film "catch me if you can", should understand, that perhaps the US armed forces should employ this hacker to asist them in the fight against future hackers.
    To prosecute is really a wate of time & money. sure the US forces are embarrassed (so they should be).
    Rule Britannia does not extradite UK Citizens to be tried in other juristictions (even if it is the United States) - full-stop (that means "period" for the US Forces encryption teams)
    So why not use Gary's talents for the "good".

    What he did is still wrong - however that's as may be.

    If the Establishment must try him let it be in England (of course).

    Roger (and out)

  • Nimrod - 14 years ago

    My initial reaction is that he should be tried in the US but I was not aware of the changes to extradition law as highlighted by Frank N Sense. This throws a different light on matters in my mind. I still feel that he should be accountable for his actions but the US can't expect to have it's cake and eat it. What Gary McKinnon did was illegal, stupid and dangerous. The fact that he didn't mean any harm in no way exonerates him but I now feel he should be tried in the UK.

  • White Ferret - 14 years ago

    The prosecution of any crime should be according to the law that was extant at the time of the commission of the offence. In this case, I understand that the relevant extradition 'law' was not in effect until after the offence was committed. Laws themselves cannot be retrospective (although sentencing may be varied), and for this reason this man should be dealt with in the UK.
    I would add further that I feel that the US Security authorities owe Gary a debt of gratitude in showing up weaknesses in their computer security systems, and rather than seek to prosecute him for what amounts to, in all honesty, an innocuous offence, they should offer him employment in continuing to test their security systems - and not seek to destroy the obvious talents of this young man.
    We are not talking about the NSA, the CIA or the FBI ... but rather NASA, where information is not a matter of National Security but rather information that should really be in the public domain.
    Hacking, granted, is illegal (though most Governments do it themselves), but as with all types of offences, there are degrees of severity according to intent and actual harm caused. Gary clearly intended to hack into the NASA computer in an effort to elicit information on his hobby - UFOs - but without intent to actually do harm. Nor was any physical damage caused.
    It is high time that the UK Government reviewed this unilateral extradition agreement, which like many other laws was floated on the back of anti-terrorist considerations but are being used with much wider implications.

  • TG - 14 years ago

    Quite simple - would we expect an American who hacked into MI5 to be tried in the UK or in the US? If you think the UK, then it is only right that McKinnon should be tried in the US.

    However, as often with cyber-crime, the target and the place where the offence took place ate different countries. Clearly it is easier to prosecute in the country where the target was, simply because of witnesses and evidence. This also suggests that it is fair that McKinnon is tried in the US.

    The only real disparity is then one of sentencing and I personally have a problem with a UK citizen being tried in a country that still has the death penalty. If the US repeals the death penalty, then he should definitely be tried in the US.

    This guy is an intelligent adult. He knew that what he was doing was wrong. When you knowingly do things that are wrong, then you take the consequences. The only defence then is a "whistleblowing" one, and that is what he is attempting - that there is evidence of UFOs being covered up. Then you have to decide if this is a real genuine concern to humanity or if he has watched too many episodes of the X files. I think that if there was real evidence of UFOs, it would be impossible to cover up.

    Now that leads to the trial. Will it be about the illegal act of hacking, or will it be about the alleged cover up of evidence? The proecution will claim the former, and the defence the latter.

    At the end of the day, a US government department had lax security. This guy found it. Now the US government has dug itself into a hole - demand extradition and a show trial to deter hackers (which it will probably not) or go for an embarrassing climbdown.

    If they want a way out of the "lose/lose" situation they are in, it would be better to defer the case and use it as a basis to draw up new international laws that can be signed up to by all countries regading cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism.

    But that would be too sensible!

  • A de K - 14 years ago

    I would also add that the legality of that "Unilateral Extradition Treaty" ought to be contested all the way to the UK's highest courts.

    Even Canada, which is regularly "bullied" into submission by its overweight neighbour (cf. the softwood lumber disputes in spite of NAFTA) would not have caved in in the face of such a blatant abuse of "vigor".

  • A de K - 14 years ago

    I think the well balanced comment by "Frank N Sense" (!) says it all.

  • Easiwriter - 14 years ago

    The American authorities should be hanging their heads in shame for having security so lax that someone such as Gary McKinnon could so easily hack into their systems. It should have been a wake up call and they should tighten security not wield a big stick. What will it achieve? It won't deter the real cybercriminals, most of who probably live in countries that have no extradition treaty with the US. He admits he broke the rules and should be tried here, not sent to a place where he will not receive a fair trial.

  • Frank N Sense - 14 years ago

    Gary McKinnon is not seeking exoneration he is seeking to be tried by a jury of his peers as is his right and his peers are all in the UK.
    Gary, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, was arrested in 2002 and, without a lawyer present, he admitted to illegal access in his obsessive search for UFO evidence, he volunteered all the information freely but NOT to causing damage. The US authorities waited over three years until the one-sided extradition treaty was signed (in secret) unbelievably giving the US the right to extradite anyone from Britain without having to show any evidence. (talk about betraying the British people or what)
    At the time when when he commited the offence it was not an extraditable one, and carried a UK sentence of six months. No one has ever been extradited for hacking.
    As widely reported in the media, the security was extremely lax on thousands of machines (no passwords and no firewalls) and Mr McKinnon frequently left notes telling them so.
    He should, without the slightest doubt, be kept in the UK and face UK justice and if necessary UK punishment.
    As Americans would say "a no-brainer"

  • fdunn - 15 years ago

    I think he should be interrogated (not like you think, just questioned) by U.S. authorities about how he perpetrated the hack. I don't think he should be punished for the hack as I think he has gotten the message with all he has had to go through in the UK.

    Use his hack as a positive experience to close the security gaps that were exploited. Like someone above from the UK said "Just be glad it wasn't a terrorist or someone intending malice.".

    That being said, I don't know what he got into or if he caused problems and/or copied sensitive materials or whether he did it just to see whether he could. I have no problem with the latter as if he didn't do it someone else would have until the vulnerability was closed.

    I really think that the FBI, NSA or whomever is going to question him should go to the UK. I really think this guy has spent enough money for counsel and time off work to make up for anything he did here.

  • IH - 15 years ago

    I think he should be tried here and definately not get away with it. If he is that good why does he not get a job in security and stop playing like a teenager. He is after all a grown man and should be more responsible. If he is a conspiracy nut and broke into a building he would still be punnished so why not for what he has done. There are too many nuts out there with nothing to do but cause havoc, how sympathetic would people be if he popped a virus on their pc for laughs, i know i hate these no life plonkers.

  • nik - 15 years ago

    Ok you 3 Americans. Yep he's no innocent but try the guy in the UK.
    The US will use him to make an example 'cos he embarrassed them.
    (And who trusts the US justice system especially after Guantanamo?)

    Think yourselves lucky it was him and not a real terrorist outfit.

  • Kurt Setschen - 15 years ago

    Not easy to understand these sympathy. Hackers never know really what their hacking could do harm, even danger. And for sure, all the sympathizers would cry "kill him" if their own computer and data would be hacked and badly affected. That stupid hacking and virus writing will not stop until those people know that they can be traced and put to jail for a long time.

  • Chris Stofberg - 15 years ago

    If someone steals a car, and then accidentally kills a pedestrian, should he be let off because he didn't mean to kill? I think not.

    What sort of message does it convey if he gets off scot-free?

  • Ed Heel - 15 years ago

    I don't think that the end, even if McKinnon claims it's relatively innocent, justifies the means. He committed a crime by breaking into critical systems and he should have the decency to face the consequences, and stop protesting like some spoilt child.

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