Background^ back to top
Gary's is perhaps the highest profile and certainly the longest running UK extradition case under the Extradition Act 2003. Gary McKinnon, 45, is accused of hacking into Pentagon and US military computer systems in the aftermath of 9/11 and alleged to have caused damage amounting to £400,000. (Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars)
In CPS disclosure to the court in 2009 the CPS admitted that the U.S had not provided any evidence whatsoever of the alleged damage required to make Gary's offence an Extraditable offence. His diagnosis in 2008 with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and the subsequent campaign by the Daily Mail and others to prevent his extradition, have made his a totemic case in the whole debate about the UK's extradition laws.
The Allegations^ back to top
Gary McKinnon does not deny that he accessed US computer systems, which he did via a dial up connection from a bedroom in his flat in North London. He maintains that he was searching for evidence of UFOs and free energy sources. He also strongly denies that he caused any damage to US military computers, as alleged. Indeed, his hacking was apparently fairly low-level, and made possible only because the computers he accessed were not password-protected. He faces up to 70 years in prison if extradited and convicted.
Subsequent Events^ back to top
Although indicted in 2002, his extradition, like that of the NatWest Three, was announced by the U.S in 2002, it was delayed and not requested from the U.K until the new extradition laws had come into force in 2004.
In 2002 when announcing the indictment the District Attorney /American prosecutor on the case said he'd like to see McKInnon 'Fry'. A repeat of these threats was re-iterated to Gary's solicitors in the American Embassy in London when Gary was being pressured to waive his rights in extradition and come voluntarily to the US.
In 2008, Gary was diagnosed with Aspergers' syndrome, after a TV viewer, an autistic rights campaigner and mother of two autistic children seeing an interview he gave to the ITV got in touch with Gary's lawyers to say that he exhibited classic symptoms of the condition. Gary was subsequently assessed by the UK's leading experts in Aspergers and was properly diagnosed. His mental condition was described as extremely fragile, and his Psychiatrists have stated that he will commit suicide rather than to be dragged from the land he was born in and be torn from his family and all he has ever known.
McKinnon sought a judicial review of Home Secretary Alan Johnson's refusal to consider fresh medical evidence in his case, and in particular evidence concerning the suicide risk, with a view to determining whether extradition would breach his human rights.
Political Dimension^ back to top
While in Opposition, prominent politicians including both David Cameron and Nick Clegg expressed unequivocally their desire to see Gary's case dealt with in the UK. After coming to power in May 2010, Home Secretary Theresa May has asked for more medical evidence, and has stayed the judicial review proceedings that are still pending, while she considers the matter.
In February 2011, Wikileaks published a US embassy cable that revealed that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had asked Barack Obama to allow McKinnon's case to be dealt with in the UK, a request that was turned down by the US.
David Cameron publicly raised Gary's case with President Barack Obama during their first joint worldwide press conference in America and again during their second joint worldwide press conference in May 2011 where President Obama announced that it was a U.K decision which America would accept and respect. Gary's family were elated as President Obama had basically given the British Government the green light to refuse to extradite.
Whyspend 7 years determining whether a mentally ill individual should be removed from his crucial support network, to extradite for a matter that could be prosecuted in the UK?
Links^ back to top
Timeline of Events^ back to top
- June 2011 – the Judicial Review hearing remains on hold while Home Secretary "considers all the new evidence". The maximum sentence based on the existing charges against Gary remains 60 years imprisonment. Gary lives in daily fear of extradition – 10 years on from the events in question.
- May 2011 – Further new evidence submitted to Home Secretary regarding Gary's Asperger diagnosis and long term history of concerns over his loss of mental faculties (dating back to childhood). Medical evidence from Professor Declan Murphy meets Justice Mitting's criteria for refusing extradition. Additional medical evidence disclosed from Dr Jan Vermeulen who diagnosed McKinnon with severe depression and his suicide risk being a "virtual certainty" if extradition was ordered or occurred.
- 20 May 2010 – the Judicial Review was put "on hold" by Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May after the new Coalition Government came into power.
- 14 January 2010 - Mr Justice Mitting granted permission for Judicial Review of the Home Secretary's Nov decision, in light of new psychiatric evidence, ruling the Home Secretary's decision to extradite could be unlawful.
- Nov 2009 – Home Secretary orders Gary's extradition.
- 31 July 2009 – Judgment upholding the Home Secretary's Decision to extradite (under article 3 of ECHR) and separately the DPP's decision not to prosecute.
- 14 July 2009 – High Court heard Application for Judicial Review of the Director of Public Prosecution's decision not to prosecute Gary in the UK.
- 9-10 June 2009 – Judicial Review of the Home Secretary's 13 October 2008 decision to order Gary's extradition.
- 23 January 2009 – High Court granted Gary permission for Judicial Review.
- 13 October 2008 – the Secretary of State dismissed the Asperger diagnosis as being a reason to prevent extradition.
- August 2008 - An expert in Autism saw a television interview with Gary after the House of Lords ruling and contacted his solicitor suggesting that he displayed the classic signs of someone with Asperger Syndrome. He was shortly after diagnosed by expert in this field, Professor Simon Baron Cohen.
- July / August 2008 - Application to European Court of Justice to rule that extradition would be contrary to Gary's Convention Rights. Awaiting ruling.
- 30 July 2008 – The House of Lords dismissed Gary's appeal. Lords did not find disparity of sentence an abuse of process - despite shift from 3-4 years with possibly only 6 months in US and subsequently serving 50% of the remainder (under UK remission rules) to 10-12 years and possibly longer all in US (with max 15% remission) for refusing to plea bargain.
- 16 June 2008 – House of Lords heard Gary's appeal.
- 25th May 2007 - Divisional Court certified the point of law (pursuant to section 114(4) of the Act) that gives rise to Gary's appeal as being of "general public importance", for which the House of Lords granted permission on 26th July 2007. Gary submitted before the Divisional Court that the threats made during the 2002/2003 plea-bargaining process amounted to an abuse of the extradition process.
- 4th July 2006 - the Secretary of State announced he had consented to the order for Gary's extradition.
- 10th May 2006 - District Judge Nicholas Evans sent Gary's case to the Secretary of State for his decision as to whether Gary should be extradited.
- 7th June 2005 - Gary was arrested at home and appeared before the Bow Street Magistrates' Court the next day.
- 17th November 2004 - The US Government's extradition request of 7th October 2004 was certified by the Secretary of State.
- 7th October 2004 - Gary's extradition was requested by the US Government on for alleged computer "hacking" offences from his home in London into US Government computers between 1st February 2001 and 19th March 2002.
- 12th August 2004 - a Grand Jury of the Eastern District of Virginia returned a superseding indictment charging 5 counts of "fraud and related activity in connection with computers" concerning computer hacking into government computers. On the same day the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a warrant for Gary's arrest. This superseding indictment allows US to subsequently take advantage of UK's new extradition legislation (enacted in UK on 1 January 2004).
- April 2003 the US Government informed Gary that a refusal to cooperate would mean that he could expect a sentence of 8-10 years or possibly more, but sentence would be at large, subject to what was at that time the statutory maximum of 70 years' imprisonment.
- November 2002 to April 2003 - the US authorities proposed a plea bargain. In return for not resisting extradition and pleading guilty to identified counts, Gary was offered a prison sentence of between 3-4 years with the prospect of repatriation after 6 months in the US – but it was clear that the prosecutors could make no guarantees as to any plea bargain. The threat, if he did not cooperate, was that he would receive a substantially longer sentence with no prospect of repatriation and remission. Gary rejected this 'no guarantees' offer.
- 31st October 2002 - a grand jury of the District of New Jersey returned an indictment alleging one count of computer hacking activity into US government computers. On the same day the District Court issued a warrant for Gary's arrest New Jersey Indictment: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/mckinnonIndict2.htm
- State of Virginia issues first indictment and arrest warrant Virginia Indictment: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/mckinnonIndict.htm
- 19th March 2002 and 8th August 2002 - Gary was interviewed by the UK National High Tech Crime Unit ("NHTCU") at the request of the US Government. He cooperated fully with the investigation, without the presence of a lawyer, and explained that the purpose of his activity was to investigate US intelligence regarding the existence of UFOs.