Home Secretary, Alan Johnson

There are a lot of very good reasons to oppose the extradition of Gary McKinnon, but the most fundamental one might be one you haven’t heard before.  It’s certainly one the Home Secretary is at pains to cover up.  Listen up everybody, here’s the scoop:  He didn’t do it.

That’s right, he didn’t do it.  Radical, huh?  It’s true though, contrary to what you may have been led to believe.  The evidence shows that no extraditable offence actually occurred.  Let’s think about that for a minute, shall we?

Gary McKinnon is accused of hacking – he didn’t do it: there was NO security in place for anyone to hack.  And let’s remember that the US military are legally required to secure their computer systems.  Strangely, no-one in the US military has been prosecuted for this failure that allowed hundreds of individuals at the same time as as Gary, people from China, from Turkey, from all around the world, to access US military systems, even after 9/11, when you would have thought that security should have been tightened.

Gary McKinnon is accused of stealing passwords – he didn’t do it:  there weren’t any passwords on ANY of the machines he accessed.  That’s quite aside from the fact that the courts have decided that passwords are not property anyway and therefore can’t be stolen.

Gary McKinnnon is accused of shutting down US military computers – he didn’t do it: The US shut down their own machines, when they eventually detected his presence on them.  That the world’s biggest superpower didn’t have any sort of back-up systems is shocking, but hardly Gary’s fault.

Gary McKinnon is accused of causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to the machines and computer systems that he accessed – you’ve guessed it, he didn’t do it:  According to the detailed technical forensic reports presented to the court, on every point the quality of the prosecutors’ ‘evidence’ does not meet the standards required to prove anything.  No evidence.  Not a dollar of damage caused.

The long and the short of it is that there’s no admission and no evidence for any of the allegations constituting extraditable offences. In fact, the ‘evidence’ that was presented has been laughed out of court, described as “an embarrassment to the prosecution” by Lord Justice Stanley Burnton, and acknowledged as such by the CPS.  So, basically, there is in fact no evidence that any of the offences alleged in the extradition request ever took place.  And that’s not just me saying that, that’s been tested and decided by the courts.

Ok, so those are the facts.  Let’s compare this picture to the one Alan Johnson paints.  According to the Home Secretary, Gary has admitted to most of the allegations against him, and these are, like, REALLY SERIOUS offences, yeah?  Why wouldn’t Alan Johnson have to support the extradition under these circumstances?  Well, quite.  Except that the Home Secretary’s story is untrue; those are not the actual circumstances of the case.

In fact, the only thing Gary has ever admitted to is unauthorised access to the machines in question.  Under the Computer Misuse Act, this constitutes a Summary Offence.  In case you didn’t know, that is the most minor class of offence there is.  It is disposable by a Caution, or at worst, a six-month sentence.  But crucially, it’s not extraditable, so it’s by-the-by for the purpose of any discussion of extradition. 

As for the allegations for which extradition is sought, which I quite agree are very serious allegations indeed, Gary has always denied them.  In addition to which there is no evidence for these allegations, and moreover, the supposed ‘evidence’ presented by US prosecutors is in fact such as to suggest to any reasonable person that the offences alleged never even took place.  Even according to the rotten (and unlawful) extradition treaty, the criteria for extradition are not met.

It’s been acknowledged in court that Gary can be tried in the UK.  The only offence that meets the threshold test for prosecution is the non-extraditable Summary Offence.  Therefore the extradition is entirely unwarranted and blatantly unjust.  As far as the extradition allegations go, he didn’t do it.

Alan Johnson, having purportedly considered the facts of this case in great detail, must surely be aware of all this, yet he still refuses to step in and prevent this gross abuse of process by the US, and this apparent perversion of justice by the UK courts, who thus far, against all the evidence, have bafflingly decided the extradition should go ahead.  Johnson prefers to make false and misleading statements to Parliament and to the media, in an unseemly vendetta to try to exaggerate what Gary did and admitted to – presumably in order to cover up the injustice he is presiding over.  The obvious inference to be drawn from the facts is that the Home Secretary is either grossly incompetent, or he must be knowingly complicit in this scandal, right up to his neck.  This is surely Gross Misconduct in Public Office. 

First, he tried to tell us that he had no discretion to intervene.  That was proved untrue.  Then he tried to tell us there was no imbalance in the Extradition treaty.  That was proved untrue.  Now he’s trying to tell us that there’s no Human Rights violation in sending a man with Asperger’s, already traumatised to the point of suicidality, away from his country and his family to face a 60 year sentence on allegations that have been demonstrated in court to be unfounded.  He’s having a laugh, surely, if he thinks anyone’s going to buy that.  Isn’t he?

Will the British people allow Alan Johnson to get away with this? In the name of truth, justice and fair play, the time to act is now.  The Home Secretary so far has demonstrated all the integrity and conscience of a gutter-rat.  It’s up to us, the electorate, to make this morally bankrupt man finally do the right thing.