Friday, July 31, 2009

Justice?

The guy broke into US top secret computers. They say he caused $800,000 damage - though he says he saved them money. He was looking for UFOs; imagine if he'd actually been a terrorist and it had been that easy. They needed better security. He did them a favour. They told the UK government to extradite him - & our government said OK.

The guy has aspergers. Is he guilty? Is he culpable? Is he a terrorist? Should terrorism legislation be used for computer geeks persuing UFO fantasies?

Or should extradition treaties be two-way streets? We do ask for US citizens to be sent over here to face our courts; 70% of the time we get what we ask for - though we have to show probability before getting them. The other way around, it's a 90% success rate, and the treaty only demands "suspicion" of guilt.

I don't know what's right in this case, I don't know what Gary McKinnon was doing & if his aspergers plays into the case or not: but I do know that the treaty all this is based on is one of the Blair government's most shameful moments. Justice must be based on equality, and this is not a just treaty. It should be repealed, and I hope Mr McKinnon gets appeal afer appeal and delay after delay until this treaty is repealed or torn up or altered so that it is a fair and equal partnership. I'm not questioning the fairness of the US justice system (...as long as you have the money and the influence, any system is fair) I'm stating outright that no one country should sign a treaty with another that puts their own citizens at a disadvantage, and that's what this treaty does.

As far as I am concerned, Gary McKinnon can be tried & locked up for what he's done - but that should happen here, where he did his crime. Until our two governments have worked out that we all have equal rights.

Feel free to disagree.

8 comments:

camillofan said...

Not 100% sure how I feel about the whole thing, but I'm disinclined to consider the Asperger's a mitigating factor.

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

I'm not disagreeing with you...at all

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and they should take his asperges condition into consideration..... they should be thanking him for pointing out the weakness...... joyce

Marcus Green said...

We have a couple of aspergers people here. It makes me seriously consider it a mitigating circumstance - as in this guy's case, one of its effects is he simply cannot cope with any form of travel. Taking him from the UK to the US would seem therefore to be extremely cruel - torture, even. I can see why his mother would go to any lengths to spare her son that experience.

But the main argument remains the injustice/inequality of the extradition treaty, and the use of it in non-terrorist situations when it was brought in specifically as terrorist legislation. But that's the problem with much of the Blair terrorism legislation; you limit civil liberties on one count and then they are limited - period. British courts have to apply the law before them, they are not usually law making bodies.

Please - US friends reading this - my complaint is not with your system per se; I would hope you too would be unhappy if your government seemingly preferred the rights of foreign nationals to its own citizens, which is what ours did when they signed the treaty McKinnon faces extradition over. It is the duty of a government to (at the very least) ensure equality for its own and then defend us; it is the failure of the exercise of this duty that is the crux of my support of McKinnon at this time.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if the US government thought this to be a serious threat then the US media would be very open about what they were doing with its citizens. This story hasn't even made the general newspapers over here.
Before the British rush to a hasty decision perhaps they should consider what happens to our 'political prisoners', has anyone heard of Guantanamo Bay. The US justice system can not equate to that of the UK, if the crime was commited on UK soil then surely that is where the trial should be?

Gill.

camillofan said...

Again, I don't know enough to be sure what I think about the whole affair, but I don't think the word "torture" is appropriate in this context.

Why did the European Court of Human Rights turn him down? They're not bound by any treaty with the US, are they?

Marcus Green said...

Camillofan - go here: http://www.quantasecurity.com/article.php?s=2&a=7932&view=newer for an insight into your question. It's pretty depressing, especially as you read down the page; that a woman could be essentially sent to her death and this not be regarded as "prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" doesn't fill me with overwhelming confidence that human rights legislation does everything it says on the tin.

And again - if the guy is guilty, then he should be tried and convicted. Simple. This should not be a ruse to escape a penalty he deserves.

But US citizens should not expect to be shipped off to other countries to be tried at the whims of other governments because their own elected officials had given foreigners more rights than US nationals. And (replacing Us with UK) that's the situation Gary McKinnon is in, and as such I find it appalling.

Marcus Green said...

Anyway - glad you all had different opinions (Gill, I am just imagining what I have started; Chuck & Scarlette, I apologise...). I guess this will run. Our government is now doing a "hedge your bets" option, saying that they will seek to ensure any sentence will be served here in the UK. Not sure how much comfort there is there - but I guess when public opinion rises, they do change things. (cf Joanna Lumley's recent State Visit to Nepal!)

Go here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6736469.ece for more info...