Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Case for Gary McKinnon's Extradition.

I was pleased to hear the Home Secretary tell us this week that Gary McKinnon was not to be extradited to stand trial in the US. As far as I could tell, almost all of us on the Gov't benches were pleased. In general the opposition benches were more muted. It was only Alan Johnson, former Home Secretary who openly disagreed.  I have to admit that I thought Alan Johnson made a fair point, as he usually does, and was extremely brave to stand up and make it. The Telegraph has given him a platform to go into greater detail. It's worth reading.

I was pleased by Mrs May's decision because 'politics' and 'public opinion' inevitably plays a part in how we feel about issues of this sort. The Home Secretary would be horrified to hear this - and would deny absolutely that any such considerations entered her mind. I'm only saying why I was 'pleased' - not why I thought she was right. And to be frank, I'm not at all sure she was right. Lets consider some of the issues.

It's generally thought that the 2003 extradition treaty is biased in favour of the US. The UK seeks extradition on the basis of the test of 'probably cause' while the US seeks it on the basis of 'reasonable suspicion'. Mrs May accepts, backed by the Coalition Gov't's own Scott Baker Report that there is no practical difference. In any case this was not a determining factor.

Gary McKinnon has admitted that he 'hacked' into highly sensitive US defence infrastructure soon after 9/11. He left a message criticising US foreign policy and warned that he would strike again - even if he later claimed he was looking for UFOs. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary and I reckon these to be very serious charges indeed. There has been much legal consideration of all the points at law, and all have been fully satisfied. The only avenue open to Mrs May was to decide whether extradition would breach Article 3 of European Convention of Human Rights. Sometime during this process Gary McKinnon was diagnosed as an Asperger's sufferer - which meant that the process was started again. This was not accepted as reason to prevent extradition by Lord Justice Burnton in 2009. Alan Johnson claims that while he was Home Secretary, he saw no reason to bar extradition and that Gary McKinnon refused to undergo independent medical assessment. Only Mrs May has seen the most recent medical evidence, but Alan Johnson believes it must be substantially the same as it was in 2009. I do not claim to have any idea. But it's what Mrs May made her decision on.

Various reasons have been put forward by those supporting Gary McKinnon's case, but the Home Secretary dismisses them all - except that based on Article 3. Wonder when this case will be first used as a precedent to prevent us extraditing some unsavoury character! Having written all this, I have not persuaded myself that I should be anything but pleased by the decision. Just grateful that I'm not a former Home Secretary.


Anonymous said...

I too Glyn am pleased with the result. This is exactly why the Human Rights Act is important. I find it strange how in such a civilised country, the words "Human Rights" is despised by many. Yes people have taken advantage of it, but its application was perfect in this case.

But the extradition agreement has wider problems. It is very much a take take relationship in favour of the US. And there is one case currently being appealed that I am VERY uncomfortable with. And that is the Richard O'Dwyer case. He did something within the UK that was legal. But under US copyright law it was illegal. Yet an extradition order was granted (currently being appealed). How can this be right if what he did was lawful in the UK?.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I've heard many say its a take-take relationship. But the Coalition Gov't asked Sir Scott Barker Q.C. to look at this and he conclude dit is not the case. I do not know enoughy about the Richard O'Dwyer case to venture an opinion - yet anyway.

Anonymous said...

You are not quite sure why you should you be happy.

The main reason I would suggest is that you,like May, cannot produce any reason that can only be applied to McKinnon and no one else. It obviously cannot be that he suffers from any condition that cannot be applied on a wider scale or the fact that that he has threatened suicide. This has already been tried and dismissed in other cases. My view is that the one reason that he was not extradited was,because Cameron would be again be shown up on a bad week for him. There is another reason which without my knowing you I would not like for you to assumeI was applying to you.
Perhaps May would like to publish the 'new' report which I am led to believe does not contain any information which would account for this 'exceptional' decision.

I am quite happy to discuss, reasonably, any aspect of this decision which I strongly disagree with apart from the fact that I would not wish for anyone to be extradited as long as it was applied equally in all cases !!

Glyn Davies said...

Anon 2 - I have not seen the medical report on which Mrs May based her 'exceptional decision' - and I'm not going to make assumptions about what it says. I have no idea if its similar to that which was available in 2009 - and I cannot see how you know either. However I hope that there are circumstances that are special to this case and it does not open the door to spurious claims in the future.

Anonymous said...

Glyn, thank you for your response. I,too, have not seen the latest report but I can only say that I have been led to believe that there is nothing in the report that would cause a change of heart such as this.

I am not stating that the report has not been altered as I am aware that one of the original 'ex
perts', Professor Declan Murphy,appears to have changed his mind and now refers to McKinnon's threat of suicide as 'significiant' as opposed to his earlier 'moderate' rating. But my belief is that the threat to commit suicide should have no bearing on this case for three main reasons:

1. It is not acceptable as a violation of anyone's HRA in this respect.

2.It would open the way for others to make the same plea (and it is understandable that faced with the prospect of 60 years in prison in the USA that any normal person would consider suicide at their darkest moments, but, unfortunately, this gives no reason,under the HRA, for not extradiction.)

3. McKinnon's cannabis intake could account for these threats.

(Continued on next entry)

Anonymous said...


Incidentally his mother is happy to quote the experts who may have said what she might want to hear, but like the cannabis, totally ignores other aspects. Another expert,Prof. Jeremy Turk, who examined McKinnon in 2008 stated that, in his opinion, McKinnon should have been sectioned then, and that, if his condition did not improve he would require to be sectioned sooner or later. That this has not happened, I can only assume that it is one of these aspects that have and are being ignored. If this is so and that McKinnon is about to be given permission to return to using his computer there is obviously no way of knowing what damage he is capable of causing to people.

Again, as I said, I am against anyone being extradited providing it has been applied equally in all cases.

There are a number of answers that I would like to get and perhaps you may be better placed to find these:

1. How many computers did the Police remove, where from, and what did they find on them ?

2. How many computers did McKinnon have use of ? I have read many differing stories, such as a) He used his mother's, He used his Girlfriend's, He used his Girlfriend's Aunt's, He worked with another individual who occupied another computer (not necessarily in this country) ?

3. How much cannabis did/does McKinnon consume ?

4. What other mind-altering medication and/or illegal drugs was/is he taking ?

5. Why wasn't he placed in secure premises when Prof. Turk suggested this (presumably to protect McKinnon and others ?

5. If he is still deemed to be sectionable why has he now or will he be in the near future given access to computers ?

My thanks for any reasonable assistance you may be able to supply and should you feel that there are any aspects,relating to the extradiction that I can assist with I am happy to oblige.

Anonymous said...

In the above I stated:

"Again, as I said, I am against anyone being extradited providing it has been applied equally in all cases."

Upon reading my last comment again even I see it that it might need some further clarification.

What I meant to say was that "I am against extradition, however where an extradion policy is in place, it should be applied equally to all involved. In this case I do not believe that that is what has taken place"

My apologies to anyone who might have been interested and were somewhat confused. But,as I suspect, that this may not be the case I apologise anyway.