It’s only taken ten years for our government to say ‘no’ to the US but finally Home Secretary, Theresa May, has done it.
Her announcement, on Tuesday, that Gary McKinnon will not have to face extradition to America was a shot in the arm for the right of all UK subjects to a fair hearing.
In 2002, McKinnon was accused of hacking into the sacred computers of the Pentagon in Washington. Apparently, he had done so on numerous occasions, over several years, causing them some considerable inconvenience. US officials demanded he should be flown to the states to face trial, and a possible 60-year prison sentence.
What’s wrong with that you might ask? He did the crime so he should do the time.
Well, let’s put aside for a moment that he hacked so easily into what should have been the world’s most protected computer systems. Let’s also forget that the spotlight should have been focussed on those who had been so inept at setting up its security procedures.
Then, we should allow for the collective panic in the minds of the US security forces, and politicians, following the events of 9/11. We should also remember these were the ‘heady’ days when a fly caught in the Oval Office was likely to be pronounced a member of Al-Qaeda and renditioned to Guantanamo Bay to be waterboarded.
Now consider that our extradition treaty with the US was signed at a time of irrational thought and by a UK government who saw an opportunity to shine on the world’s stage in the afterglow of retaliatory US measures against Al Qaeda. It was a one-sided agreement negotiated in haste, and ill thought through. The treaty meant that just about anyone living in the UK, who attracted the interest of the US authorities, could be speedily extradited from our soil without the normally accepted proof of a crime being presented before a UK court – and all in the name of fighting terrorism!
Personally, I am glad the Home Secretary has finally done something worthwhile (although I suspect McKinnon had become as big an embarrassment to the US administration as he was to our own coalition) even though she had to rely on a legal loophole of protecting his human rights following his diagnosis as a sufferer of Asberger’s Syndrome.
McKinnon had always claimed his hacking was not intended as a threat to the US but merely an attempt to seek officially recorded proof of the existence of aliens.
Ironically, it seems his proof was only to be found after he was caught!
(Picture from UFO Digest)