Gary McKinnon on the decision not to extradite him to the USA

Following up on yesterday's announcement by the UK Home Secretary that Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the USA (where he faces up to 60 years in prison), the Guardian's Lizzy Davies reports on McKinnon's reaction:

Speaking in the aftermath of the decision, about which his mother informed him late on Tuesday morning shortly before May's statement, Glasgow-born McKinnon said he felt hopeful for the first time in a decade. "I have spent the past 10 years living with a dark and hollow feeling," he told the Daily Mail. "I have always thought that if things went against me, I would just have to end it all and take my own life. Now I just feel that I have been set free."

Referring to his long-term girlfriend, Lucy Clarke, who campaigned against his extradition alongside Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mother, he added: "I had no hopes for a future, no way of making plans, no thoughts of asking Lucy to share my life, no thoughts of whether I could ever have children or get work. It still does not feel real – but only now am I starting to feel as if a shutter has flipped up and lifted in my head."

Gary McKinnon feels 'set free' after US extradition decision


  1. Doubtless he will now be brought into a room filled with British scientists and instructed: “Just draw what you saw, son.  We’re particularly interested in the method of propulsion”

  2. I’m going to the UK to rob a bank.  I swear to God I will kill myself if anyone tries to make me face consequences.

    I’m not being malicious.  I just want to find out if the British pound really weighs a pound.

    1. There was a time when adding this type of comment was called trolling.  Now it is called “contributing content to the social media discourse.”

      He never was physically in the US so I am having trouble uncrumpling this ball of fallacy laid before me. But thanks for contributing content, hungryjoe

      1. Can you elaborate on this?  I get that my initial comment was over the top.  I don’t understand the position you’re advocating.  It seems like you’re saying that cross-border cyber crime shouldn’t be punishable.

        Here’s a comparable but different scenario:  A Russian hacker accesses and empties the bank account of a Norwegian pensioner.

        In the above scenario, with a possibly-less sympathetic (to you) hacker and a probably more sympathetic victim, how do you find?

        For this to be a more apples-to-apples comparison, let’s add some mental illness:  The Russian hacker is a sociopath.

        Now how do you find?

        1. Here’s a comparable but different scenario: A Russian hacker accesses and empties the bank account of a Norwegian pensioner.

          It’s certainly different, but not in any way comparable. He didn’t steal anything, let alone an elderly straw man’s life savings.

          Thanks for playing.

          1. First: I object to you automatically assuming my carefully constructed straw person is male.  That shows a decided lack of gender insensitivity.

            Second: If you have the demonstrated ability to access a secured US network, you already have something of value, even the gap you exploited in this particular instance is now closed.

            And once you access that system, you have access to information.  How do we know he didn’t retain that information in one way or another?  State secrets have cash value, even after WikiLeaks flooded the market.

            At this point I’m playing devil’s advocate for the actual devil, and I’m  uncomfortable with it.  But I take issue with this idea that you can’t extradite a person because he’ll take his own life if he has to face a trial.  Couldn’t anyone claim that life-as-he/she/it-knows-it is over if that person is extradited to another country to face trial?

          2. The point of the opposition to the extradition process wasn’t just that he would harm himself, but the reason why he would do so, to whit: that the threatened sentence of 60 years was completely out of proportion to the purported harm caused. Actual murderers seldom get that much in the UK, never mind what the US emulation of the Bloody Code decrees.

        2. No one said he’s not going to face trial or punishment, what the UK decided was that we weren’t going to let him be extradited to an oppressive regime that wouldn’t guarantee him a fair trial or a proportional sentence. He may well be tried in the UK and receive a sentence fitting of the crime.

    2. What a crock of shit. Here’s a clue for you. If you do something in the U.S., that is legal in the U.S., you should not be extradited to a foreign country to face justice for it. Guess what? Drinking alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia! Get ready to be extradited!

      1. Wait, it’s legal in the UK to break into other people’s computer systems?  Or is only legal to break into other people’s computer systems in other countries?

        Does that mean that it should also be legal for people in other countries to hack into computer systems in the UK?

    3. You misunderstand Joe. It’s pound as in “repeatedly pound in the face”. The early British used to hit you until you paid them to stop. The perceived value of not being struck in the face therefore became a standard currency unit. 

    4. And the whole point is he never set foot in the US in his life..

      Mind you if he had and the security around American banks are as bad as the Pentagon’s, he might have made off with millions!

    5. First, I don’t see anything that implies that the Home Secretary decided not to extradite him for fear he would kill himself.

      Second, there is a thing called “justice.” Justice does not mean “enforce the laws to the maximum extent possible in every case because, you know, they are *laws*.” If you actually feel that what Mr McKinnon is insufficient to punish him for his behavior, and that sterner measures are required against him, please by all means argue that. I would say that the US laws in question are harsh and counterproductive, and the UK acted in the interests of justice by refusing to take part in them.

      1. First, I don’t see anything that implies that the Home Secretary decided not to extradite him for fear he would kill himself.

        I’m pretty sure that she did it because she has an evil reputation with the UK citizenry and she’s trying to rehab her image by appearing friendlier.

      2. Actually, she said “After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.”

    1. Justice system? What justice system? The British “justice system” was ready to ship him over on day 1.
      This was purely a political decision (likely involving both countries) obtained after relentlessly applying public pressure. McKinnon was lucky both governments had changed since the process started, his local MP is now on the winning side, and both governments are currently fighting hard for popularity (election year in US, deeply unpopular coalition government in UK).

      1. Justice and the legal system are two different things. The legal system had no option but to comply with a legal request, justice in the end prevailed because it extradition was liable to result in an unjust resolution.

        1. “Justice and the legal system are two different things.”

          *insert condescending comment here*

          Come onnnnn, who do you think appoints the judges? Plays poker with them? Runs the schools their kids attend? Gives them promotions?

          Politics isn’t any different from an office space or playground; people are still unfair, biased, and self-centered. The legal system just weeds out the (stupid) liars and picks the smart, polite and ambitious.

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