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The Courts United States

Hacker McKinnon To Be Extradited To US 571

Vainglorious Coward writes "When UK hacker and Asperger's sufferer Gray McKinnon lost the judicial review of his case it seemed likely that he would be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking almost a hundred systems causing $700,000 worth of damage. Today the UK home secretary rejected his last-ditch attempt to avoid extradition adding that 'his extradition to the United States must proceed forthwith.' McKinnon's relatives are expressing concerns for his health, with his lawyer going so far as to claim that extradition would make the 43-year-old's death 'virtually certain.'"
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Hacker McKinnon To Be Extradited To US

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  • Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:01PM (#30240422)

    ...and Asperger's sufferer...

    This has NOTHING to do with this issue.

    • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:09PM (#30240486) Homepage Journal

      Losers believe that having Asperger's Syndrome excuses all forms of social retardation, attention whoring and shitty self-absorbed bullshit, while also allowing them to lay claim to its supposed symptom of "higher than average levels of intelligence".

      For these reasons, Aspers has greatly outstripped ADHD as the chic diagnosis of choice for pretty much every group of fucktards on the internet. It is no wonder then that all people with Assburgers are fugly.

      Posting Dramatica articles is usually lame, but they're spot-on with that. Here's [] another famous Assperger's fuckup.

      • According to Wikipedia (which I suggest you avoid for fear of contracting the disease) symptoms of Asperger's include:

        * Impaired social interaction.

        * Inability to read expressions or make eye-contact.
        * Lack of empathy.
        * No sense of humor.
        * Inability to cope with criticism.
        * Hyperfocus on tasks and rituals.
        * Logical patterns of thought.
        * Clumsiness.
        * Really good at videogames.
        * Furry artwork.

        From here []

        While I don't deny Asperger's is a real illness and those who suffer it deserve any help they can get, I've yet to met someone who claims to suffer it and actually do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If I was his defense attorney, it sure the hell would.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      Yeah, I mean, it's not like he killed his wife.

    • Re:Good grief! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Vainglorious Coward ( 267452 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:08PM (#30240988) Journal

      [that he is an Asperger's sufferer] has NOTHING to do with this issue.

      Except that his condition was the central issue in his judicial review [] so it has plenty to do with this. I was initially going to write "alleged Asperger's sufferer" - would that have made you happier?

    • Re:Good grief! (Score:4, Informative)

      by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:39PM (#30241208) Homepage Journal

      Actually it does. Many people on the autistic spectrum do not respond well to changes in their environment and absolutely must have a high level of control over their environment. Extradition will be a double whammy for him. It creates a special hardship that (again depending on just where he is on the spectrum) could be considered no less cruel and unusual than it would be to put a non-suffere in a room with a painfully loud siren and strobe lights 24/7

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aphrika ( 756248 )
      Actually, Asperger's potentially has everything to do with the issue, both in the fact that it broadly defines his initial actions, and that extradition may prove to be a step too far. Asperger's sufferers perceive and process the world around them differently from typical people.

      Before I go on, yes I have been diagnosed with Asperger's. Do I use it as some magnificent excuse for stuff I do? No. Does knowing I suffer from it help me understand why I do what I do? Yes.

      Now, apart from the fact that Asperger
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Another key aspect is that they often have no understanding as to how their actions would or could affect others.

        I was with you until this. That's just nonsense. That may apply in social situations, where it's easy to say the wrong thing. It *is* hard to predict people and their reactions. If this were a case of a hacker finding a vulnerability, reporting it, and expecting kudos and thanks instead of prosecution, then you might have a point.

        But there's nothing about Asperger's Syndrome that prevents or inhibits your ability to understand that if you break the law for your own purposes, you may face consequences. H

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Now, finally, I don't think Asperger's should be used as a cop out or an excuse, but it is medically defined and can be diagnosed

        So is just about every other category of behavior. Ive been diagnosed as well, but attempting to define what I can and cannot do by a diagnosis would be a cop out. Because you have been labeled into a category of "tends to perform well here and badly here" does not in any way excuse you from laws or consequences.

        While we're at it why dont we make special exemptions for those with ADHD, and depression, and OCD, and the disgruntled... Im sure we can categorize everyone in SOME way and perhaps if we co

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nedlohs ( 1335013 )

      It has everything to do with the issue.

      As an Aspie he should just be euthanized anyway, since they don't do that in the UK maybe the US will have more luck removing this blight on humanity from existence. Hopefully before he goes on a killing spree.

  • Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryjohnston ( 1118069 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:07PM (#30240462) Homepage

    The crime took place on British soil. Why is he being extradited?

    Or, if you want to take the view that the servers were on US soil, why have people posting to US servers been prosecuted in Britain for hate speech? You can't have it both ways.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because unfortunately our government overlords are attached to the rear of your government overlords.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by murdocj ( 543661 )

      Because he admits to hacking into computer systems in the USA. So why shouldn't he be extradited?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        He wasn't in the US when the offences took place, so why would he be considered subject to US law?

        Why hasn't he been prosecuted in Britain?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The same reason America refused to extradite IRA members known to have blown up innocent children with their bombing campaigns?

      • Fuck Muahamad (Score:2, Flamebait)

        I guess I should be extradited to Saudi Arabia since that message can be read from there.

        • I guess I should be extradited to Saudi Arabia since that message can be read from there.

          Probably not prosecutable in Saudi Arabia as crime since you posted it on a U.S. server. Bet you got a fatwah on your ass, though.

    • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:39PM (#30240728)

      It's often the case that the most stringent standard is applied against the individual. So you can be prosecuted for being a breaking US federal law while being outside the USA and not a citizen of the USA and yet not have a say in what the law is in the USA. Then you get denied the benefit of the law in the USA - eg posting so called hate speech on the USA server while in the UK.

      If the basis of law is consent of the governed and one who is governed never has a chance to give their consent it makes the whole concept of the 'rule of law' a farce. (I think if you are being extradited ot the USA for a crime not committed in the USA you should be able to vote while awaiting trial and given all the rights of a citizen.)

      And of course if you are foreigner trying to visit the USA, then you can be treated like shit and deported. No right to work - crap all. So when the government wants to treat you like someone who belongs in the USA they can and when they want to treat you like an alien they can.

      You also have to ask by what right does country x have to prosecute person 'a' for an action taken in country y. The person was not in the jurisdiction of country x when the crime was committed.

      • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by wronskyMan ( 676763 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:58PM (#30241336)
        Consent of the governed is considered to apply to tourists/other non-citizen visitors since it is assumed that by traveling to another country they voluntarily place themselves under the jurisdiction of those laws (if a Dutch citizen doesn't want to risk the high drug penalties in Singapore, for example, he can just stay and smoke up in Holland). Citizens are then (theoretically) granted the right to vote on their laws since they have no "home country" to go back to. Where it gets sticky in this case is determining if "traveling" virtually to the US servers is equivalent to getting on a plane and flying to the US. WRT UK citizens being charged for posting hate speech on US servers, nations also claim extraterritorial jurisdiction over their citizens - for example, US citizens who travel to Thailand for example to have sex with small children can be prosecuted in the US just as if they committed the crime here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Moral of the story: Governments will prosecute what they think they can win when they think they can win where they think they can win. The US will probably seek to extradite UK citizens who screw up US servers and vice versa. This is partly due to the fact that jurisdiction in the digital age is an absolute bitch; maybe in 10 years the laws will have caught up to the late 90s.

      Prosecuting hate speech, however, is likely to be a British phenomenon, and they're likely to be very...british about it. I highly r

  • Has just gone out the window. Lowest common denominator laws win.

    • Lowest common denominator laws win.

      No, most powerful sovereign state wins. USA gets to tell pretty well anybody (apart from maybe Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea) when they want somebody brought over the USA to stand trial under US law. How often does the US let other countries take its citizens away to stand trial under their laws? Can't imagine US citizens being shipped to the EU very often, not even thinking of less developed countries.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gzunk ( 242371 )

        And I don't care if I lose karma over this, but that stinks to high heaven.

        Oh, and the United States NEVER extradites its citizens. Big Bully Rules OK.

      • At least not France nor Germany, although it's slightly different within EU countries (or at least Schengen) because it wouldn't be an extradition, and member countries have similar standards -- the US certainly doesn't. McKinnon would hardly get more than a suspended sentence here.

  • I have not read much on this case, from skimming his wikipedia page [] seems he is a UK citizen, right? Why would the UK extradite a citizen to the US? If it were the other way around I think an extradition would be very unlikely.

    • Re:UK citizen? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:19PM (#30240562)

      I have not read much on this case, from skimming his wikipedia page [] seems he is a UK citizen, right? Why would the UK extradite a citizen to the US? If it were the other way around I think an extradition would be very unlikely.

      I honestly don't understand why so many people think he shouldn't be extradited. The way most extradition treaties work is if you commit a crime in or against a country with which you have an extradition treaty, and if that crime is also a crime in your home country, then you are extradited. I think Britain has hacking laws, so this seems fairly clear cut. Why do so many people have a problem with extraditing him? Is it because you think hacking shouldn't be a crime, or what?

      • Re:UK citizen? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by David Horn ( 772985 ) <david AT pocketgamer DOT org> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:30PM (#30240662) Homepage

        People have an issue with this because if convicted in America he will face the rest of his life (however long or short it may be) languishing in a high security American prison. In the UK we do at least give the majority of our prisoners the chance of rehabilitation.

        The above comment disregarding the fact that a US jury is almost certainly likely to be biased against a foreigner; his inability to qualify for any capable legal aid; and an unfamiliarity with the US legal system seems to me an excellent reason to allow him to be tried at home. I imagine that they're also looking to try him under a terrorism-related charge, which is patently not what he set out to achieve.

        However, this is now boiling down to a deeper issue of a massive disparity between the number of people extradited from the UK to the USA and vice-versa. I daresay the bulk of this is due to the fact that we do in fact harbour more potential terrorists, but at least some part of it is due to a government that just rolls over and takes it up the arse.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Prisoner are not in prison to punish them, they are in there to keep other people safe from the prisoners. He can't be rehabilitated. His attorney is ruffly saying that because he has aspergers, he has no able to stop himself. He can not or will not stop doing things like this. Next time it may cost lives, maybe someone from the UK. If the UK is unable to protect its' people then the US should have the right to protect US people.

          Now if his attorney is lied (doesn't the UK have laws that punish bending of th

      • If I go to country X and commit A crime I would expect to be processed through the local justice system. If I skip the country before I am caught I would expect to be extradited back. That is what extradition was designed for.

        This guy knowingly committed a crime on a system in the US while in the UK so I can see that there is an argument for extraditing him to the US, even though he may never have been to that country.

        But it is easy to raise corner cases when dealing with networks. People have been accused

      • by gzunk ( 242371 )

        I suppose because the UK laws are quite proportionate - i.e. 3 to 5 years in Jail for what he did, however because he embaressed the US authorities they're threatening 25 years to life.

        What he did was illegal in the UK, so what should happen is that he's prosecuted in the UK (since he did the crime here, he just modified US servers through "indirect action" of electrons...)

        But that's not what the US wants, and we all know, what the US wants, the US gets.

      • Re:UK citizen? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:43PM (#30240780) Homepage
        +1 Informative. While the UK-US extradition treaty is somewhat biased in favour of the US, this is precisely why is being extradited. He's never denied commiting the crime, and frankly given what has been revealled about the incompetence of the US agencies involved I'm surprised that they still want all that dirty laundry aired in what will almost certainly be a media circus.

        The reason the waters are so muddy is because some of McKinnon's supporters have made Aspergers out to be something that it is not; a get out of jail free card of some kind. Contrary to what some of McKinnon's supporters might think, it does not in any way make it conceivable that McKinnon did not know right from wrong or understand the potential consequences of his actions. The only thing is does is mean that he has some legitimate medical and psychological requirements that the US must be able to meet before the extradition can proceed, and since those are pretty easy to meet then, barring intervention from the EU, it's a done deal.

        Personally, I think McKinnon's defense team royally screwed up. Once he had admitted his guilt and the Asperger's diagnosis was made, they should have used that to press for a trial in the UK, against UK laws and sentencing guidelines, with any sentence also being served in the UK. Both sides could have said that justice had been done, and McKinnon would have got off with a slap on the wrist and at worst a short sentence in a minimum security prison with time off for good behaviour, and quite possibly at the weekends as well. All this would have been over years ago, and he'd have probably made a small fortune out of selling his story to the tabloids and publishing an auto-biography by now.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by segedunum ( 883035 )
          The problem isn't with extradition. The problem is that extradition never seems to be equal even when a treaty is in place. The US will never so much as name, nevermind send the pilots that killed British soldiers in a 'friendly fire incident' to the inquests of those killed to establish what happened. Extradition shouldn't be necessary between supposed civilised and developed nations because we should have confidence in our own legal systems, as should those seeking punishment for crimes.

          The problem peo
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          somewhat biased in favour of the US

          That is like saying, having your balls ripped of using a blunt knife is somewhat painful! The US allowed known IRA terrorists and fundraisers to stick around, but at the first opportunity we hand over some computer hacker, fuck that!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gnasher719 ( 869701 )

        I honestly don't understand why so many people think he shouldn't be extradited. The way most extradition treaties work is if you commit a crime in or against a country with which you have an extradition treaty, and if that crime is also a crime in your home country, then you are extradited.

        In German law, there are the following requirements:
        1. It must be a crime according to German law. (Check)
        2. It must happened in the country that asks for extradition. (Check. The hacking would be assumed to happen where it took effect, that is in the USA).
        3. There must be a guarantee for a fair trial (Definitely not. He'll do time not for hacking, but for embarrassing the US military).
        4. No cruel or unusual punishment (50 years for hacking would be considered both cruel and unusual).
        5. No extraditi

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:14PM (#30240528)

    If you don't live in the USA you hardly stand much a chance of getting fair trial if you are extradited. Firstly you need money for a private attorney if you want a real shot at a fair trial (public defenders are a joke most of the time; innocent people go to jail all the time - just look at he innocence project). And you are not allowed to work while you are awaiting trail in the USA further guaranteeing you getting screwed over. You are not familiar with the legal system - again another nail in the coffin of obtaining a fair trial. And consider that you don't know anyone to turn to for advice. And then you have to consider cultural factors - a jury in the USA is going to be less sympathetic to a foreigner.

    Of course in this case its even worse - what he did would be a lesser crime in the UK. Why someone should subject to a foreign countries laws while doing something that is not in that foreign county amazes me. We don't give foreigners the vote so why should they be subject to our laws when not in our country. Let him be subject to British laws and let the British system deal with him (ie for his hacking).

    He also has Asperger's Syndrome and this form of autism could really be a stress factor leading to suicude. A trial in a foreign country is no small deal. The whole thing stinks.

    • So anyone who might commit suicide, gets a "get out jail free" card from you. At what crime do you draw the line I wonder? If I killed you and then said "oh I am going to end it all" should I walk free?

      I don't think the world can work as you seem to want it to work. Oh and if he was going to kill himself over the stress, why hasn't he killed himself yet, over the stress?

  • Votes (Score:2, Troll)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 )

    Let's face it, he's a nerd / geek, so expendable as there are no votes in it for this government that likes to extradite TO the USA, but cannot get any wanted terrorist suspects extradited FROM the USA. That's the beauty of the extradition treaty THIS corrupt British government has, it's one way, they are a spineless government who rolls over for anyone these days, not giving a crap bout their own. The Americans never got the extradition treaty through their government machinery, they are laughing.

  • Awesome job! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chad Birch ( 1222564 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:19PM (#30240582)
    His name is Gary, not Gray. Stellar editing as always, slashdot staff.
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:24PM (#30240608) Homepage

    I though there was a UN convention that prohibited extradition to countries that practice torture or won't give a person due process. Given the US recent track record on torture and the probability that he will be tried in a military court it should be fairly easy to get his extradition cancelled. But then again, the US and the UK are not all that much different and if closer together would probably become a single country. Maybe he should appeal to the EU court for the protection of Human Rights in Geneva and he probably will. This dude will be in prison for a very long time.

  • $700,000 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leathered ( 780018 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:29PM (#30240654)

    That figure is the alleged cost of upgrading the security of these systems after the attack, not the result of any 'damage' that he may have caused. I'm not in any way condoning what he has done and Asperger's is no excuse but the desktops that he accessed were often Internet facing with blank or weak administrator passwords, seems to me like there should be some sysadmins on trial with him for gross negligence.

    My analogy (no car sorry) would be that it's like a robbed bank having to spend $700,000 on a vault after realising that keeping the money in wooden boxes in the back yard is inadequate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Frosty Piss ( 770223 )
      The $700,000 figure is being bandied about by both the US Government and the press. But remember, the "perp" has yet to stand trial. This is an issue that will come up at trial (along with others), and so it as yet has no real meaning other than PR jockeying. In the end, it may have no effect on acquittal or conviction at all.
  • by duffetta ( 660874 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:09PM (#30240990)
    Isn't his death already virtually certain?
  • by McDutchie ( 151611 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:02PM (#30241750) Homepage

    Justice would mean him being tried in the UK, just like any other UK citizen. Now he is going to get 60 years in the for-profit American prison industry for guessing a few passwords. For an example of how people with Asperger's are treated there, see the Billy Cotrell case [].

    The US would sooner start a war than extradite one of their own to another country, even for war crimes []. One-sided extradition treaties give the US legal jurisdiction over Europe but not vice versa. We Europeans are pussies. We've truly let ourselves become satellite states of the Empire of the United States of America.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xmundt ( 415364 )

      Greetings and Salutations...
      The Billy Cotrell case is another example of the excellent job that the U.S. Government does of ensuring that if their wards were not terrorists before going into custody, they certainly would be when released! That is probably the only really documented results of the hundreds if not thousands of folks being imprisoned at Gitmo. Hundreds and thousands of folks who now hate America and what it stands for with a passion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Inda ( 580031 )
        Nice post.

        My sister-in-law suffers from Aspergers. When she's out on the loose, she likes nothing better than to set fire to public buildings while on the phone to the police. After being deliberately caught, she shows a ton of remorse and but can't understand why she did it. She knows it leads to secure accomodation but does it anyway.

        It's a sickening illness.

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