What hope for Gary McKinnon?

Gary McKinnon is failing at every hurdle to fight his extradition, including losing the most recent, and possibly last, legal battle.  Some of the facts of the case appear clear.

  • Gary hacked into US military and NASA security systems
  • Gary has aspergers (a form of Autism)
  • There is no belief in the UK legal system that he is a threat to national security, for the UK or US governments
  • If he was tried in the UK, and found guilty, he would get a a couple months in a low security prison, if anything
  • If tried in the US he could be sentenced up to 70 years.

There are strong debates as to whether the UK should allow the extradition; often split by those on either side of the Atlantic.

In the UK the strength of public opinion, based on the legitimate concern for Gary’s future, appears to in favor of trying Gary in the UK rather than the US. For this to happen the police just need to arrest and charge him, and then the extradition problem disappears as UK law takes precedent.

While there is a debate all we can hope for is fairness in the legal system; that is highly unlikely when politicians like Harriet Harman are involved in the political system.  Harman is  a a labour MP as well as Government Equalities Office (since 3 Dec 2007) and Lord Privy Seal, House of Commons (since 28 Jun 2007), and the deputy prime minster. Currently, while Gordon Brown is on holiday, Harriet is running the UK.

Harriet Harman voted strongly for terrorism laws, for the Iraq war, and ID cards, but very strong against an investigation into the Iraq war.  During the expenses scandal she was found to have hired “consultancy” services on the public purse; claimed for party political propaganda and bought expensive gadgets, which the UK tax paper paid for.

This is relevant because on Sunday 2nd August 2009 she was interview on the BBC 1 Andrew Marr show, as her role as deputy prime minster. She was asked  direcetly about the Gary McKinnon case, and if the UK government would step in to prevent the extradition. Harriet’s answer was

It is not the role of politicians or the parliament to second guess the courts”

Yet in March 2009 she stated that:

The Prime Minister has said it is not acceptable therefore it will not be accepted. It might be enforceable in a court of law but it’s not acceptable in the court of public opinion, and that’s where the Government steps in.

The latter comment was in relation to the pensions payment of Sir Fred Goodwin.

This extreme example of flip flopping is both staggering and concerning. What is shows is that the UK Government, which Harriet Harman is a senior member of, has very little concerns about following guidelines, process, or even sticking to a consistent legal standard. In short they will take whatever course they see fit, and that was a clear message that Gary McKinnon will not be protected from extradition.

Based on this, Gary McKinnon has little to no chance to preventing his extradition. Right or wrong, the comments by the current acting prime minster are concerning.

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