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British home secretary blocks computer hacker’s extradition to U.S.

Mark Rockwell Top Priority Sector:  cyber_security Image Caption:  Gary McKinnon The man accused of one of the biggest hacks into the U.S. defense department computer networks has escaped extradition from the U.K. after that country’s home secretary blocked the move. British home secretary Theresa May said on Oct. 16 that she had withdrawn an extradition [...]

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Hacker ‘in terror’ over extradition

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon is “unable to control the terror that consumes his every waking moment” as he fights extradition to the US, his mother said.

Janis Sharp said the treatment of her son, who admits hacking into military computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs, was “barbaric”.

She met supporters outside Number 10 to hand over poems of support for her son to mark the 10th anniversary of his first arrest. She urged Prime Minister David Cameron to raise the issue with US president Barack Obama when the two leaders meet at the White House next month.

Ms Sharp said: “Ten years have gone by and still Gary lives in a nightmare world – unable to control the terror that consumes his every waking moment. This endless pressure on an Aspergic man with severe mental health issues is barbaric. And for what? A foolish act that caused embarrassment to the US. Where has our sense of proportion gone?”

She told reporters on Downing Street: “He can’t deal with it. He sits in the dark – it’s ruined his life. His mental health has deteriorated and it’s ruined our lives.” And Ms Sharp said her son does not have an outlet because he cannot use a computer.

The High Court expressed concern over how long McKinnon’s case was taking to return to court last month, with two judges listing the case for July in a bid to speed matters up.

They acted after hearing that Home Secretary Theresa May is “considering afresh” whether Asperger’s sufferer McKinnon should be extradited to the US to face trial for hacking into military computers in 2002.

She said: “In March David Cameron is visiting President Obama to discuss our ‘special relationship’. What an opportunity for our PM to finally announce an end to Gary’s 10-year ordeal. This act alone would prove that the ‘special relationship’ has true meaning and is one of mutual respect.”

McKinnon’s legal team hopes Mrs May will block extradition amid predictions he could be jailed for 60 years in America. Medical evidence shows the 45-year-old was “suffering from a serious mental disorder and there is a serious risk of suicide if extradited”, his legal team has said.

McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, admits hacking but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

Article source: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/hacker-terror-over-extradition-152755851.html

View full post on National Cyber Security » Computer Hacking

The Case of a Scottish Hacker Tests the British-American Extradition Pac


Gary McKinnon attends a press conference in London, on January 15, 2009. (Photo: Leon Neal / AFP / Getty Images)

The following is a guest post from London by TIME writer-reporter Megan Gibson.

Sometimes the bleakest of battles can find some unexpected support.

In 2002, a Scottish man living in North London found himself under suspicion for hacking into dozens of Pentagon and NASA databases from his home computer. Fast forward nearly a decade and Gary McKinnon, a 45-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, is still battling a grueling extradition process under a U.K.-U.S. treaty enacted in the wake of 9/11. If extradited, McKinnon could find himself facing up to 70 years in a U.S. prison. The process has been blasted by McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, who’s said her son has “lost almost 10 years of his life and has served a nine-and-a-half year sentence of psychological torture, despite the crown prosecuting service testifying to the court in 2009 that the US has provided not one shred of evidence of any extraditable offence … because they are not required to.”

Of course, McKinnon’s mother has considerable stake in the case, but she might also have a point.

It’s a complex issue, made more complicated by the ill-defined international agreement. Sharp is hardly the only one rising to McKinnon’s defense against extradition. On Monday, the UK’s House of Commons held a debate over the viability of the extradition agreement. The Conservative MP, Dominic Raab, who initiated the debate said that reform “is not about abolishing extradition, which is vital to international efforts in relation to law enforcement; it’s about whether, in taking the fight to the terrorists and the serious criminals after 9/11, the pendulum swung too far the other way.” The debate saw MPs unanimously agree that the current treaty was in need of change.

The agreement was negotiated in 2003, when both the U.S. and Britain were intent on cracking down on possible terrorists. Today, however, most critics of the treaty are quick to point out the discrepancy in the way each extradition process is carried out. They say that while American authorities need to only show “reasonable suspicion,” which entails outlining the crime, punishment and a justifiable reason for focusing in on a suspect, British authorities have the weight of “probable cause” on their shoulders, where they must provide evidence of guilt in order to extradite a suspect from the US. Critics can point to the numbers. Reports show that 130 people had been extradited to the U.S. under the treaty while only 54 people have faced similar extradition to the UK.

The specifics of McKinnon’s particular case also complicate the issue. He’s been accused of hacking into 81 U.S military computers and another 16 NASA databases, compromising military safety, prompting the shutdown of a large Washington network, and causing a total of $700,000 worth of damage. While he does admit to hacking into the U.S. databases, McKinnon claims that he was merely searching for evidence of extraterrestrial energy, not launching a cyber attack on the US system. He’s also said that the reason he was caught was because he hadn’t used a false e-mail address when registering software he was using and was smoking a lot of marijuana at the time. Not exactly what you’d expect from a seasoned cyber-terrorist. Certainly these are serious accusations, and in the fallout of a WikiLeaked world, these crimes likely loom all the more dangerous in the eyes of U.S. officials. Yet in the U.K., there’s a large and persuasive argument that McKinnon’s human rights would be violated if he were to be extradited. Numerous medical experts have testified that McKinnon’s mental condition is precarious, as he’s suffering from severe depression. If extradited, they say McKinnon would likely become suicidal.

The motion from the MPs, however, is a significant boon for McKinnon’s cause. The unanimous vote from the often-divided parliament is something of a landmark. It also places an extraordinary amount of pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron and his government to act. While parliament’s agreement may be persuasive, pressing to remodel the treaty – the fairness of which, US general attorney Eric Holder recently said, “has been demonstrated by its application during the years it has been in force” – would require some diplomatic finagling.

One possible reform to the current treaty would be implementing what’s known as the “forum bar” to the extradition process. Such a regulation would allow a British court to block a request for extradition if the criminal actions took place in the U.K., rather than in the U.S. This would not only address McKinnon’s particular case, but could also help negate the pressure on British courts to agree to US terms of evidence. While the British government hasn’t officially responded to the MP’s motion, immigration minister Damian Greene has said the government is currently weighing their options.

While there’s been debate over the treaty in the past, clearly McKinnon’s case has been something of a catalyst. As MP Raab stressed in the debate, reform was necessary to prevent violating the hacker’s rights. “Gary McKinnon should not be treated like some gangland mobster or Al-Qaeda mastermind,” he said.

Article source: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/12/06/case-of-scottish-hacker-illustrates-divide-between-u-s-and-u-k-extradition-laws/?xid=rss-topstories

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Mother of U.K. hacker in plea over US extradition bid

LONDON – The mother of a Briton who hacked into U.S. military and NASA computers Tuesday attacked “ludicrous” attempts to have him prosecuted in the United States as lawmakers urged reform of extradition laws.

Janis Sharp said her son Gary McKinnon’s life had been destroyed since his arrest on suspicion of gaining access to computers in 2001 and 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

US officials are demanding the 45-year-old, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, stand trial in the United States despite warnings that he could commit suicide if extradited.

McKinnon, from north London, admits the crime but claims he was only looking for evidence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

“It has destroyed his life and it has destroyed ours,” his mother told BBC television.

“Here the Crown Prosecution Service said in 2002 that Gary was looking at six months’ community service but then when the Americans took over suddenly it becomes 60 years.”

She added: “Our argument is to try Gary here and to be given a proportional sentence. To go from six months to 60 years is ludicrous.”

McKinnon has been facing the threat of extradition for the past seven years.

His mother made the plea a day after lawmakers in the lower house of parliament called on ministers to ensure better safeguards for Britons wanted overseas, including through an overhaul of the British-US extradition treaty.

They agreed to the parliamentary motion without a vote after a string of high-profile lawmakers supported it.

“Gary McKinnon should not be treated like some gangland mobster or Al-Qaeda mastermind,” said Conservative lawmaker Dominic Raab.

The motion is not binding on the government but immigration minister Damian Green said it would be taken into account in a current independent review of British extradition arrangements.

McKinnon’s family and lawyers have warned throughout the long-running case that he could commit suicide or suffer psychosis if the extradition went ahead.

But the U.S. has continued to demand his extradition, alleging his attacks on the US Navy and NASA space agency computers led to repairs costing $800,000 (600,000 euros).

Article source: http://www.canada.com/news/Mother+hacker+plea+over+extradition/5817541/story.html

View full post on National Cyber Security » Computer Hacking

Wikileaks founder Assange takes extradition fight to Supreme Court

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has filed an appeal today to take his case to the Supreme Court in a bid to block his extradition to Sweden on possible charges of sexual assault and rape.

The High Court will decide whether Assange is allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court at a hearing on 4 December. The court may though delay handing down its decision.

Assange could take his case directly to the Supreme Court if the High Court refuses his appeal, but there is no guarantee his case would be heard.

The latest appeals filing comes after Assange lost a second appeal in the High Court on 2 November. The two judge panel found that the European Arrest Warrant issued for Assange was proportionate and valid, and the offences alleged against him are criminal in both the UK and Sweden.

In his first extradition hearing in February, Assange’s legal team connected Sweden’s extradition attempt to WikiLeaks’ continuing release of some 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.

After losing the second appeal Assange said that the European Arrest Warrant structure is so strict that it prevents courts from considering the facts of a case. He emphasised he hadn’t been charged with a crime.

Article source: http://rss.feedsportal.com/c/270/f/3551/s/1a215df6/l/0Lnews0Btechworld0N0Csecurity0C33186620Cwikileaks0Efounder0Eassange0Etakes0Eextradition0Efight0Eto0Esupreme0Ecourt0C0Dolo0Frss/story01.htm

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