It’s all a bit late now. Boris Johnson writes about the Gary McKinnon case in The Telegraph and points out what anyone living under a rock wearing a bag on their heads could already see. McKinnon is charged with breaking into US military computers from his 56k modem, leaving messages, deleting files and causing general mayhem. He admits to all accounts of hacking in, though denies deliberate attempts at causing damage, claiming these charges were invented to pursue extradition proceedings. Quite what the prosecutors are trying to achieve with this man are unclear, given that his crazy quest for the secrets of little green men and free energy actually provided a service to the US military authorities in pointing out their lax security. As Boris Johnson points out, they could as well be offering him consultancy fees, as trying to clap him in irons. But how long does it take before someone is willing to stand up for common sense? And given the seemingly endless machinations of the legal process, will such calls even have an affect? Aside from highlighting the blatant partiality of the US-UK Extradition Treaty, these proceedings have once more underlined the spinelessness of the UK government when it comes to rectifying gross injustice, and defending its people against what can only be described as foreign tyranny. Watching paint dry, grass grow, the wheels turn in Whitehall: the simile edges ever closer to a regular place in our vocabularies.
This isn’t a case I’ve been following with any particular enthusiasm, but it would appear that Gary McKinnon is losing his battle against the extradition charges laid by the USA. Technically McKinnon was already arrested and prosecuted by the UK authorities prior to these extradition charges. In addition, the calls are made on the basis of a UK-US Extradition Treaty that was ratified after the events (and original prosecutions) and as such is being enforced retrospectively, allowing that the USA is not obliged to provide prima facie evidence for their claims. Whilst there are numerous issues regarding the Treaty that should already provoke concern, McKinnon’s case is clearly too small to spark a debate on the issue, and won’t involve politicians to the extent that extradition charges over a figure like Pinochet in previous years managed. Which of course, shouldn’t come as much surprise, since a man charged with torture of foreign nationals and assassination clearly has more to offer than a Weegie who crazily hacked into poorly protected foreign government computers on some wild conspiracy theory pursuing evidence of alien technologies and the secrets of ‘free energy’. It is therefore refreshing to see a campaign (see link above) organised to prevent the extradition proceedings, and guarantee McKinnon a trial on home soil. Unfortunately, the case looks liable to fail, however it can only be hoped that this failure will not prevent others from campaigning to stand up for those who lack the energies, finances and know-how to represent themselves and make an issue of their plights against large government and corporate bodies.