The Home Ministers of various departments in the U.K. are practically falling over themselves in the Gary McKinnon extradition case. More troubling is that it appears that the basic issue of a crime being committed is now completely overshadowed by the actual events that have taken place since the U.S. Department of Justice issued a request for extradition.
Further compounding the issue is the legal team that McKinnon has put forward along with other supporting experts are using arguments that are far off the legal framework it is almost stunning that the justice system even works in the U.K.
In 2001 the U.S. military networks were hacked into. The hack was discovered and the prime suspect, Gary McKinnon (43) who now lives in London, was charged in 2002 by the U.S. government and an extradition request was made. From there it's been all downhill when viewed from a justice perspective.
Lawyers, Judges and Ministers have tried six different methods of having his extradition stopped. And to make matters worse, Gary McKinnon admitted hacking into the U.S. military networks and has yet to go to any kind of trial. His innocence presumed or not is now compromised and potentially wrecks his opportunity to get a fair trial in the United States.
Three different levels of courts have all denied his requests to turn down his extradition to the United States, among them the European Court of Human Rights, the High Court of the U.K. and High Court of the House of Lords. Now the politicians have entered the fray and nobody appears to even want to recognize that a trial has yet to even occur. Negotiations have already occurred to ensure Mr. McKinnon has certain outcomes if found guilty;
The UK wanted to be sure that Mr McKinnon would not face a military tribunal, will be eligible for parole and that he would not serve his sentence at Guantanamo Bay.
Mr. McKinnon also appears to be making his own original mistakes even worse by changing his story on why he broke into the networks in the first place and claiming he's a bumbling hacker, despite fact that he's a former system analyst with extensive IT experience and actually wrote his own perl scripts. Clearly he understands and knows how to hack into networks and knows the difference between legal and illegal access.
Then a new defense approach was taken this year with a medical strategy which suggests that McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome and therefore should avoid such an extradition. McKinnon was diagnosed this year, eight years after the initial hack was carried out. This 'new' medical evidence is why the case is being reviewed yet again by the Minister Alan Johnson.
The other angle that the defense team is using is that the trial should be held in the U.K. and not the U.S. This opens up new problems that the courts will have to be wary of in the future. So far in this particular case, none have accepted that argument. The defense has already suggested the primary reason for trying this tactic - less jail time. Mr. McKinnon has publicly said he's terrified of being sent to the United States. In an interview with the BBC, his emotional state seemed very coherent and professional. His willingness to attempt his own defense during a TV interview is not going to help his legal team or his own outcome. Today the extradition appeal was turned down by the minister but still has another 7 days to file yet another appeal.