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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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  • 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.
  • Re:Death? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chad Birch ( 1222564 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:21PM (#30240598)
    The article itself makes it clear in the very first sentence that his relatives expect him to commit suicide before he can be extradited. The slashdot summary would rather imply that the evil America would be killing him.
  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:3, Informative)

    by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:29PM (#30240658)

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

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

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:43PM (#30240776)
    What he did didn't cause much damage at all. The guy was an amateur whose only way to break into computers was guessing passwords. No tools, just guessing. Any account that he broke in had a password that was so weak it could be _guessed_. And since these accounts belonged to the US Army, the thing is embarrassing beyond belief to the US Army. His crime wasn't hacking into computers, his crime was embarrassing the US Army.

    The "huge damages" he caused where the fact that the US Army had to change their ridiculous unsafe passwords to something safe. The US Army just cannot admit that an amateur looking for UFOs didn't hack into their computers, but just managed to _guess_ dozens of passwords. So they have to throw the book at him to safe face.
  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:2, Informative)

    by vectorious ( 1307695 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:44PM (#30240788)
    That person had a manifestly unfair trial, someone else actually admitted to the crime in question (BBC link) [] and thus the pardon was not hypocrisy by any stretch, just proof that a fair trial abroad is hard to get (true of foreigners in the UK as much as Brits abroad).
  • by The Slashdot 8Ball ( 1491493 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:55PM (#30240876)

    The Home Office received 95 extradition requests from the US between 1 January 2004 and 31 July 2009; 47 of these have taken place, with 36 ongoing, five withdrawn by the US and seven refused by UK authorities. The UK has made 42 extradition requests to the US during the same period; 27 of these have taken place, with 12 ongoing, three withdrawn by the UK and none refused.

    Shamelessly lifted from the Guardian [], one of the UK's better papers, in a column written by Sir Alan West, a minister in the Home Office.

    So out of the resolved, non-withdrawn requests, the USA's requests are granted 47/54 times, whilst the UK's are granted 27/27 times.

    Can anyone find a US source to verify these numbers?

  • Re:Awesome job! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vainglorious Coward ( 267452 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:02PM (#30240930) Journal
    Embarrassingly, that mispell is actually mine - I noticed it microseconds after I clicked the submit button. The staff here are notoriously not editors in any meaningful sense of the word, but in this case it was entirely my mistake.
  • 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:$700,000 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Vainglorious Coward ( 267452 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:13PM (#30241022) Journal

    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 think you're probably right that this represents a subsequent upgrade. Note that the article linked from the earlier slashdot piece actually claims he caused almost a billion dollars worth of damage []!

  • Re:If it were me... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ximenes ( 10 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:28PM (#30241142)

    You may be disappointed in the results: []

    I guess The Spanish Prisoner lied to us.

  • Re:$700,000 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:38PM (#30241196)
    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.
  • 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:UK citizen? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:40PM (#30241218) Homepage Journal

    Yes, but it seems to be a one way street? Remember the US air force pilot that killed 20 people when cutting the cables of a cable car in Italy, some years ago?

    Iirc they wanted him extradited to Italy, but that was a no go. He was tried in the US and the jury found him "not guilty".

    Because the pilot's accident occurred during military exercises [], and he was in Italy as a member of a NATO force at an Italian base, all arranged by treaty between the nations involved. Italy couldn't try them because of NATO treaties. It's the responsibility of their own military branch (in this case, the USMC) to do so. They were court martialed on charges of negligence and dereliction of duty and were found innocent. However, the pilot had to do six months and was kicked out of the Marines, not because of the accident itself... it was just that, an accident during military exercises. He was found guilty in a court martial because he destroyed evidence in the case.

    Regardless, that's why he wasn't extradited. This young man did the things he's charged with completely of his own volition, and he's a civilian. And so he falls under his country's extradition treaties with the US. This isn't unusual. Most first world countries have extradition treaties with each other for criminal activities. This guy is no exception, and his lawyer will quickly discover that there's no exception for Aspergers.

  • by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:51PM (#30241282) Homepage

    Yes, if the U.S. signs an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia saying that such crimes are extraditable. Normally in signing such a treaty, care is taken to outline which crimes are covered.

  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:16PM (#30241826)

    US Supreme Court decides if its Cruel and Unusual.

    In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, "There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is 'cruel and unusual'."
    The "essential predicate" is "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity," especially torture.
    "A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion."
    "A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society."
    "A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary."

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

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:29PM (#30241912)

    It was a US Marine plane. A USMC EA-6B Prowler, BuNo 163045, from VMAQ-2 caused the Cavalese cable-car disaster on 3 February 1998, accidentally cutting the cables of a ski-lift in Italy during a low level flight in mountainous terrain and killing 20 civilians. []

    "Italian prosecutors wanted the four Marines to stand trial in Italy, but an Italian court recognized that NATO treaties gave jurisdiction to U.S. military courts. They stood trial, were found not guilty and the pilot and copilot were kicked out of the Marines. One served time in military prison.

    The two men were court-martialed a second time for obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, because they had destroyed a videotape recorded from the plane on the day of the accident. They were found guilty in May 1999; both were dismissed from the service and the pilot received a six month prison term. He was released after four and a half months for good behavior.

    By February 1999, the victims' families had received $65,000 per victim as immediate help by the Italian government, which was reimbursed by the U.S. government. In May 1999, the U.S. Congress rejected a bill that would have set up a $40 million compensation fund for the victims. In December 1999, the Italian legislature approved a monetary compensation plan for the families ($1.9 million per victim). NATO treaties obliged the US government to pay 75% of this compensation, which it did."

    So...Italy let them go, there were trials, one was found guilty of something, tossed in prison, career destroyed, felon, all that and the families got 1.965 million US each.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @11:57PM (#30242370)

    How is he going to get a fair trial,he will not have a jury of his peers, they all live in the UK. Are we going to extradite them as well?

    No we are not:

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. The Sixth Amendment []

    Juries must be drawn from a panel that is representative of the citizens of the district in which the crime was committed.

    Individual jurors must be free of bias.

    The jury of your peers isn't a mirror reflection of your own self-image.

    It's a richer sampling of the community in which you have been charged with a crime.

    To a geek, this passage should sound familiar:

    When you're in the government's sights, your best friend would seem to be a jury, that lovable amalgam of ordinary Americans with a simple, if sometimes mistaken, sense of justice. Did nothing wrong? Don't worry, jurors will sniff out the truth. Cheated a bit? No problem -- prosecutors would rather cut a deal than risk their case before a fickle jury. And if you do end up at trial, there's a good chance that jurors will be so sympathetic, confused or hostile to the government that they'll disagree on a verdict or let you off the hook.

    It almost never works out that way.

    Why to Fear a Jury of Your Peers []

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Informative)

    by KibibyteBrain ( 1455987 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @01:52AM (#30242946)
    It is not in this case; this is not a trial, its an extradition hearing. Determining the graveness of the crime is not only material but to a large degree the purpose of extradition hearings.
  • Re:Telemurder (Score:3, Informative)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @01:59AM (#30242974) Homepage Journal

    Neither. It occurred at the "border" whether the border is real or not. There are treaties to handle such incidents, such as the extradition treaty being exercised on McKinnon.

    Whether this is right or not is an issue for the diplomats.

    If you have a problem with this, I suggest you make it known to the embassy/consul.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:26AM (#30243066)

    Please don't compare natural sciences with social sciences so freely. There are certainly biological indicators supporting the Autism diagnosis, particularly the old studies of monozygotic twins raised apart. I haven't heard any extremely strong neurophysiological evidence about it, however. This guy's paper seems to sum that up as well: [] . I think this guy has real concerns as a layman about the underlying causes of Asbergers. I think he is quite incorrect in that. But it has nothing to do with him completely dismissing science, and making that argument is disingenuous. That is not to say that I have any real insight into the issue either, of course. All I am saying, is quit running your mouth off.

    So you haven't heard of any strong neurophysiological basis for Aspergers. Well I guess then it just does't exist. Silly me for running me mouth off and looking at the scientific literature. Seriously maybe you should research the literature first. hmmm?

    Ok well to get you started:

    Neurophysiological evidence for cortical discrimination impairment of prosody in Asperger syndrome. Neuroscience Letters, Volume 383, Issue 3, 5 August 2005, Pages 260-265
    T. Kujala, T. Lepistö, T. Nieminen-von Wendt, P. Näätänen and R. Näätänen

    Neurophysiological responses to face, facial regions and objects in adults with Asperger's syndrome: An ERP investigation. International Journal of Psychophysiology, Volume 63, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 283-293
    Kate O'Connor, Jeff P. Hamm and Ian J. Kirk

    The neurophysiological correlates of face processing in adults and children with Asperger’s syndrome

    Brain and Cognition, Volume 59, Issue 1, October 2005, Pages 82-95
    Kate O’Connor, Jeff P. Hamm and Ian J. Kirk

    Abnormal imitation-related cortical activation sequences in Asperger's syndrome
    Nobuyuki Nishitani, Sari Avikainen, Riitta Hari
    Annals of Neurology
    Volume 55, Issue 4 , Pages558 - 562
    2004 American Neurological Association

    Here is the abstract for this one:

    Subjects with Asperger's syndrome (AS) are impaired in social interaction and imitation, but the underlying brain mechanisms are poorly understood. Because the mirror-neuron system (MNS) that matches observed and executed actions has been suggested to play an important role in imitation and in reading of other people's intentions, we assessed MNS functions in 8 adult AS subjects and in 10 healthy control subjects during imitation of still pictures of lip forms. In the control subjects, cortical activation progressed in 30 to 80-millisecond steps from the occipital cortex to the superior temporal sulcus, to the inferior parietal lobe, and to the inferior frontal lobe, and finally, 75 to 90 milliseconds later, to the primary motor cortex of both hemispheres. Similar activation sites were found in AS subjects but with slightly larger scatter. Activation of the inferior frontal lobe was delayed by 45 to 60 milliseconds and activations in the inferior frontal lobe and in the primary motor cortex were weaker than in control subjects. The observed abnormal premotor and motor processing could account for a part of imitation and social impairments in subjects with AS.

  • Re:Sovereignty (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @03:02AM (#30243236)

    In your reverse example, yep sure the US citizen would be extradited to the UK ONLY AFTER PROOF OF THE DAMAGE CAUSED WAS PRESENTED TO THE COURT( unless the US Citizen is part of the US Military and the rules don't apply and the US Won't extradite any member of the US Military unless it is for something like Murder)

    The part of the treaty being used here means that the US does not have to produce any evidence to a UK Court of the damages caused. In fact they don't have to produce ant evidence at all. All they have to do is say that they have the evidence and will produce it at trial.

    This is a totally one sided treaty and frankly it sucks. That is why I don't support the extradition of anyone to the US under these rules.
    Personally, I'd like to get the person in the UK who signed up for this to spend a night in a US Jail where they can be the bitch of the other inmates. Tony Blair? Are you listening.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Informative)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @03:35AM (#30243380)

    Here's the thing. The government really doesn't like going to court.

    Requesting extradition means that the Feds are dead serious about prosecution.

    Plea bargains are much less common - and much less generous - in the federal system.

    Foreign based intrusions on US military networks do not get the kid glove treatment - no matter how trivial.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @03:49AM (#30243430)
    More to the point, are the people who put into place the security of the computer systems also being tried for either (a) failing to put adequate security in place or (b) aiding and abetting a criminal to break in by not ensuring the security was good enough? If not, why not?:

    As to why Asperger's suffering has to do with it. Ever tried to live as one? It ain't easy; particularly the tendency to focus on one thing trait means that it is very easy to not realise what is going on around you. And also the trait to accept as truth the first information on something and to reject new information on that subject (the trait of not liking/being unable to stand change) - even if the new information is correct.

    Also, if the recent increase in violence is being blamed on video games, consider that the film War Games does a nice job of glamorizing breaking into a computer system and shows that breaking into computer systems for non-malicious reasons is ok. (Not saying that he's seen the film, but if he has, his logic tells him that there is no problem with cracking into a computer system looking for innocent information - he'll be glorified at the end of it.)
  • by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:19AM (#30245168) Journal
    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.

The absent ones are always at fault.