Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented

Alex Hern covers the latest debate around the use of the lopsided UK-US extradition treaty.


Starting at 7:00 tonight, Parliament will debate the UK’s lopsided extradition agreement with the USA, in a move which could save the life of the hacker Gary McKinnon.

Under the rules of the agreement, signed by the two countries in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the UK has to demonstrate “probable cause” to extradite an American citizen, but the USA has only to demonstrate “reasonable suspicion”.

According to a review of the legislation by Sir Scott Baker (pdf), these two requirements are roughly equivalent:

“In our opinion, there is no significant difference between the probable cause test and the reasonable suspicion test.

“There is no practical difference between the information submitted to and from the United States.”

However, the statistics suggest a different story; as the Guardian reports, under the legislation:

Five Americans had been extradited to the UK, while 29 Britons had gone to the US.

The impetus for the parliamentary review of this legislation has been the case of Gary McKinnon, a UFO enthusiast who was arrested after hacking in to the Pentagon.

The American calls for his extradition were widely seen to be motivated by embarrassment at the ease with which he was able to gain access to supposedly secure military systems.

McKinnon became such a cause célèbre that even the coalition agreement pledged to review the legislation, saying:

“We will review the operation of the Extradition Act – and the US/UK extradition treaty – to make sure it is even-handed.”

The debate was sparked by MP Dominic Raab – best known for his attacks on workers, women and his constituents – and will encompass the extradition act as well as European arrest warrants, which have themselves been responsible for miscarriages of justice, as with the case of Edmond Arapi:

Documents seen by BBC News suggest that a man from Staffordshire, convicted of murder in Italy, was not in the country at the time.

Edmond Arapi, who lives in Leek with his wife and three young children, was given a 16-year jail term in his absence. His lawyers claim he is the victim of mistaken identity and are urging the Italian authorities to withdraw their request to extradite him.

Legal campaigners say the case highlights flaws in the fast-track European Arrest Warrant scheme.

Whatever the outcome of this debate, increased scrutiny of this legislation can only be a good thing.

See also:

Raab’s attacks on workers’ rights are – surprise – based on no evidenceSarah Veale, November 16th 2011

Huhne attacks “Tea Party Tories” – who on Earth does he mean?!Alex Hern, September 20th 2011

Mladic arrives in Rotterdam to face justice at The HagueShamik Das, May 31st 2011

Raab to face the wrath of Dale?Shamik Das, August 10th 2010

Tory MP tells constituents: “Don’t email me… it’s becoming a real nuisance”Shamik Das, August 9th 2010

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17 Responses to “Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented”

  1. Liza Harding

    “@leftfootfwd: Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented, writes @alexhern: http://t.co/RX4rYmgy” #FreeGary

  2. Dandelion

    “@leftfootfwd: Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented, writes @alexhern: http://t.co/RX4rYmgy” #FreeGary

  3. Christian Wilcox

    MT @leftfootfwd @alexhern: http://t.co/dMMrvw54 <– If Megrahi can get a special hearing why not Gary?

  4. Anonymous

    And who signed up for the legislation? Labour.

  5. Hacker

    Hacker's unfair extradition may yet be prevented – Left Foot Forward http://t.co/m9Ct5smG

  6. Political Planet

    Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented: Alex Hern covers the latest debate around the use of the lopsi… http://t.co/qfrETqIw

  7. Ben Shepherd

    I absolutely hate that some people on the left oppose the proper working of the judicial system. Assange and McKinnon have been accused of serious crimes and should answer the accusation in court. It’s really as straightforward as that. It doesn’t matter where the crimes are committed or how good their PR is.

  8. Joshua Loucks

    Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented http://t.co/D40qFmxU #Anon #AnonOps #OWS #OccupyEarth #OccupyTogether

  9. marmite

    Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented [leftfootforward] http://t.co/O1heIV8H #FreeGary

  10. Spyware Lady

    Hacker's unfair extradition may yet be prevented http://t.co/K5D9L0Fl

  11. Mr. Sensible

    I agree with you on Assange, Ben. With McKinnon, I think he should probably face justice somewhere, but I’m not sure where.

  12. bergheim1

    One should always be suspicious about what officials do in these cases. They are likely to give their intelligence services order to set up traps. In the Assange case, I find it rather unusual that a white Australian would go to Sweden and start raping white women there. When I watched him on the TED show he did not look like a rapist to me. The UFO investigator in the Swiss UFO case, the so called Meier case, got five years jail for sexual misconduct. He was a retired man of honors. An USAF test pilot he was. Never sexually misconducted before. But yeah after successfully investigating a highly controversial UFO case he suddenly got jail.
    Here is some info about the UFO Meier case for those that have not heard about it

  13. had

    Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented [leftfootforward] http://t.co/O1heIV8H #FreeGary

  14. Atal Vishwas

    Hacker's unfair extradition may yet be prevented: Starting at 7:00 tonight, Parliament will debate the UK's lops… http://t.co/cOpPByky

  15. Gaz

    Hacker’s unfair extradition may yet be prevented http://t.co/dMtN2tdP

  16. david

    Sorry but this article is rubbish. The extradition treaty is not ‘lopsided’; there have been no cases of extradition from the USA refused (while the UK authorities have refused seven requests from the USA). These figures are from the US Ambassador but have not been challenged. The difference in the numbers may be explained by the fact that there are more places for people on the run to hide in the USA without leaving the country.

    With Gary McKinnon the amount of special pleading in his case has to be seen to be believed. The reason he has been waiting all the years is because of legal and political campaigning by his supporters. He has admitted responsibility for what he is accused of (see para 8: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/762.html). His diagnosis with Aspergers Syndrome does not, and his supporters have not sort to argue that it does, diminish his responsibility. If extradited and sentenced to imprisonment the US prison system is perfectly able to cope with prisoners with Aspergers Syndrome; it is not as if he would be the only one.

    The claim that McKinnon was ‘looking for UFOs’ is one raised late in the day by his supporters and against it we have to place the note which McKinnon admits placing on a US Army computer which asserted “US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year” and did not once mention UFOs.

  17. Selohesra

    Are you serious?

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