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Saturday, August 1, 2009

McKinnon thrown to the sharks

British hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his last appeal to prevent his extradition to the USA, where its feared he will be punished very disproportionately to the offense.

This happened in spite of historical jurisprudence in similar cases of the past, none of whom were extradited. The UK is showing its most shameful vassal face with this act of subservience to the US authorities that leaves unprotected one of its citizens (and potentially others in the future).

Gary McKinnon, now 43, breached repeatedly into US military, NASA and defense department computers in search of UFO files. He felt so secure of what he was doing that even left notes saying that their security was rubbish (what in my opinion was something the US military should thank him for). But at least once he went a bit further and left a note saying that he believed that the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in September 11th 2001 was an inside job. Something I (and many others) subscribe, by the way.

According to Al Jazeera, that was what really angered the US authorities (this was in the infamous Bush era) and the main reason they have made all efforts to have him extradited and set an example out of him.

His lawyers have tried to stop the extradition based on his mental health (he suffers Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and may be at suicide risk) but, legal issues apart, what is clear is that soverign country that prides itself of human rights and democracy, doesn't extradite its own citizens. Only vassals do that.

And in what regards to the USA, they should thank him for his efforts in showing them their vulnerabilities and not just sneaking unnoticed as real spies do. The USA is also making a fool of itself with this affair. And if McKinnock is heavily punished, as everyone expects, it will be another red mark in the quite poor human rights curriculum of the North American republic.

The US-UK extradition treaty that allows the mutual extradition of citizens between these two countries was signed in 2003, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and is rather imbalanced in favor of the USA: while the US only has to prove "reasonable suspicion" for a Briton to be extradited, the UK has to prove "probable cause". It's the difference between possible and probable, between a guess and a theory, you know. This puts the UK as a mere vassal of the USA in a degree never reached before.

The case has caused political arguments, with the opposition arguing that the treaty is unfair to the UK and that it is not being used as supposedly intended "to fight against terrorism". The opposition even tried to repeal the treaty after this case sparked public outrage.

Source: Al Jazeera. Also BBC for some details but notice that BBC virtually hides this shameful information from the public (I had to dig deep in the UK section to find any mention at all). Photo from Wikipedia.

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