Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 31 July 2009

Gary McKinnon's extradition would be a disgrace

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

I was very disappointed to hear today's news that Gary McKinnon has lost his latest court bid to avoid extradition to the US. I completely agree with Chris Huhne's comments that Mr McKinnon should be tried in a UK court.

The BBC News story linked to above has something very interesting in its synopsis of the UK-US extradition treaty that was agreed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks:

US courts have granted about 70% of UK extradition requests, while nearly 90% of US requests have been granted

Why is there such an imbalance between the extradition traffic? It feels like the US is better at looking after its own citizens than our own government is of ours. Can that be right? I would be interested to hear anyone who has a better explanation.

Also, does anyone seriously think that this case is the sort of thing that those drafting the treaty were expecting it to deal with? A man with Asperger's Syndrome obsessed with UFOs did something very silly for which he is doubtless very sorry and as a result he could be carted off to a foreign country and treated like a terrorist with a potential sentence of 70 years. Our government should be ashamed of itself and should do something immediately about the "unintended consequences" of this badly drafted treaty.

If they had the will they could do it. Andrew MacKinlay the Labour MP who announced he was stepping down last week spoke a lot of sense about this on Radio 4's PM earlier. He said that the very least that should happen is that the Home Secretary should indicate that he will take his time processing the extradition (basically stalling for time) whilst the government raises this issue through diplomatic channels with the US. They are embarrassing us with this now in a way we would never do to them.

This mess needs to be sorted out now and our Prime Minister needs to show some back-bone.

(Hattip to @sw1lobbyist on Twitter for pointing me towards the imbalance figures)


Kalvis Jansons said...

Mr Brown wants Obama to help him win the next election, so does not want to upset him.

Something like that anyway.

Kalvis Jansons said...

Here is a strange reply from the Number 10 petition team on this subject.

From: 10 Downing Street
Date: 2009/7/31
Subject: Your petition has been rejected


I'm sorry to inform you that your petition has been rejected.

Your petition was classed as being in the following categories:

* Issues for which an e-petition is not the appropriate

Further information: We cannot accept petitions which involve
individual legal cases. Individual legal cases are a matter for
direct communication with the Home Office.

If you wish to edit and resubmit your petition, please follow
the following link: ...

You have four weeks in which to do this, after which your
petition will appear in the list of rejected petitions.

Your petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'end our
extradition treaty with the USA.'

After the abuse of the extradition treaty in the Gary McKinnon
case, we petition the Prime Minister to end the extradition
treaty with the USA.

-- the ePetitions team

Fausty said...

I don't know if this has anything to do with the disparity in extradition figures. I doubt it, but it is another angle ...

In the US, prisons are big business - private prisons being paid for each inmate while that inmate is incarcerated.

Too much of a conflict between money and the rights and freedoms people.

Zach said...

I have Aspergers and I am in support of Gary McKinnon being extradited to the United States. There is a lesser known story out there of another hacker with aspergers being sentenced for hacking the US government. It shows how the US Judicial System will weigh in on Aspergers.