My interest in the Gary McKinnon extradition case is based on a sense of mismatch.
The case as routinely portrayed in the media did not seem to relate to the case as set out in the relevant legal judgments.
Moreover, the discussion of the case in the media rarely, if ever, referred to the case as it would appear to someone who had read the judgments.
Indeed, the media presentation of the case was simply not recognisable.
The passionate support of the campaign against extradition is based on a sense that there is a miscarriage of justice, of a disproportionate relationship between what it is alleged Mr McKinnon had done with the cruel sentence which now faces him in a US jail.
However, the allegations against Mr McKinnon are actually very serious (see Part One of my survey here).
The allegations go substantially beyond unauthorised access and include deletion of significant operating files and unauthorised copying.
Mr McKinnon has admitted to the unauthorised access, and his legal team have indicated that he would also admit to causing damage as long as it meant he would be tried in the UK.
The US have also provided what appears to be evidence in support of the allegations which satisfied the High Court that even if the evidential standard had been for the US to show a prima facie case (and not just reasonable suspicion), then that higher standard would have been met (on the extradition treaties, see Part Four of my survey).
The CPS has also provided detailed reasoning as to why the allegations, especially of damage caused, require Mr McKinnon to stand trial in the US, where the alleged damage was caused (see Part Two of my survey).
The allegations also do not relate to a few isolated and chance examples of hacking, where Mr McKinnon perhaps opportunistically took advantage of lax US security, but instead to a sustained hacking exercise which took place over fourteen months and involving 96 computers in five US government departments, and which came to an end (it seems) only with his detection and arrest.
It should not thereby be underestimated how serious the allegation are.
And, as for the UFOs and similar points, they have actually played no part whatsoever in the litigation, and indeed Mr McKinnon's original case was that his motivations were to be taken as political: so political that he should not be extradited because of his political opinions (see the final paragraphs of Part Two here).
One would not gain any of this from media coverage of the case.
When one turns to what would happen to Mr McKinnon if extradited, one would also not gain from the media coverage of the case why the UK courts have seen Mr McKinnon's condition of Asperger's Syndrome as not going to why he should be excused extradition, but instead to how the extradition should be handled.
In particular, the Home Secretary and the UK courts have placed reliance on detailed reassurances from the US as to how Mr McKinnon will be treated.
The US have also confirmed that, in principle, they would not oppose any application by Mr McKinnon to serve any sentence back in the UK.
On these points, see Part Five of my survey.
Again, one would not get any of this from the media coverage of this case.
Indeed, the media coverage of this important extradition case has generally failed to explain why there has been the continued upholding of the decision to extradite by the Home Office and the UK court system.
In my opinion, the media coverage of the case is such that it warrants the label of "Flat Earth News" after the book by Nick Davies.
In effect, the case against extradition has been a media construct, unconnected to the legal materials which are essential for anyone seeking to understand why the extradition process is still proceeding notwithstanding the passionate campaign against it.
And on this point I make no fundamental criticism of the campaigners. In a free and liberal society, one should be able to campaign against any political or legal decision on whatever terms one thinks are appropriate, subject to very limited exceptions.
However, the uncritical adoption of the campaigners' approach in the media coverage of the case has severely limited the ability of those following the case to understand just why Mr McKinnon unfortunately still faces extradition and a sentence some eight or so years after the alleged offence was committed.
In hindsight, the refusal of Mr McKinnon to accept a plea bargain in 2003 seems a strategic and tactical mistake (see Part Three of my survey).
Had the terms of the plea bargain been adhered to (and the US had every reason to adhere to it lest they discredited any offered plea bargain in future), then Mr McKinnon may have been back in the UK by 2004 to serve the remainder of his sentence, and released in 2005 or 2006.
The last four years would thereby have been very different.
It was undoubtedly a difficult decision for him to reject the plea bargain and to keep fighting on instead; but when he made that decision he realised the risk he was adopting in doing so.
[15 October 2012 : the old conclusion has been deleted see my blogpost here.]
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