Gary McKinnon is finally facing an extradition hearing to the USA at Bow Street Magistrates Court today.
Gary McKinnon was indicted by the US authorities in November 2002 (.pdf) for allegedly gaining unauthorised access to over 90 US Military computer systems, including some at the the supposedly competent National Security Agency, the US Army, the US Airforce and the US Navy, where a e-mail system was allegedly damaged. Further minor breaches of NASA and some private sector and low security local government computers are also alleged.
As with the case of Babar Ahmad, also a British IT worker, there are a number of questions that should be asked about this attempt to extradite someone to the USA:
- Why has the legal process taken so long from November 2002, when Gary McKinnon was first arrested, and a US Grand Jury produced an indictment, for the Extradition proceedings take the next step ? Could the US Presidential election campaign have had anything to do with this delay ? Were the proceedings delayed to prevent embarrassing accounts of US Military incompetence under the watch of President Bush from surfacing in court ?
- Given that all the alleged offences took place from a home computer located in London in the United Kingdom, and that they are serious enough to attract the maximum penalties under the UK Computer Misuse Act 1990, why is Gary McKinnon not being tried here in the UK ?
- Exactly as has been argued in the Babar Ahmad case, given the xenophobic paranoia of the US authorities, what written assurance is there that Gary McKinnon, once in the power of the US Authorities, will not be handed over to a Military Tribunal, especially, as unlike Babar Ahmad, he is accused of "attacks" directly on actual US Military systems.
- We have been informed that Gary McKinnon was not only "looking for evidence of X-Files type UFO conspiracies", but also investigating the alleged activities of the US Military training of Third World secret police and military personnel in torture and interrogation techniques at the notorious School of the Americas/ Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. In the light of this, what written assurance is there that Gary McKinnon will not be declared a "enemy combatant" and sent to the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp or subjected to "extraordinary rendition" i.e. outsourced torture in a compliant police state allied country, possibly at the hands of School of the Americas trainees ?
- Given the extraordinary lapses in computer security which an allegation of unauthorised access to sensitive military systems on this scale implies, why have no senior US Military personnel been court martialled ?
Where are the extraditions and prosecutions of all the foreigners, including citizens of the United States of America, who are attacking the United Kingdom's computer systems ? There have been none to date.
UPDATE: we have launched Yet Another Blog to cover this particular Gary McKinnon extradition case, as we have talked to several people who are thinking "there but for the Grace of God..."
It may not influence the decision of the Home Secretary, but the issues are worthy of more public discussion which could lead off at a slight tangent to the main topics discussed here.