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This is my open letter to John Reid, the Home Secretary.
Dear John Reid,
I am writing to ask you not to extradite Gary Mckinnon to America, to face a possible sixty years in prison for unauthorised computer access re- the Pentagon's computer system.
Unauthorised computer access and even hacking, should never be an extraditable offence as it helps to expose the countries weakness of their security systems. This exposure is better done by citizens from friendly nations rather than by terrorists or enemies of that country and should encourage those with poor security to tighten up their security systems against any possible enemy hackers from unfriendly countries.
There are bilateral treaties which do not require prima facie evidence, but they are equal in both directions.
The new European Arrest Warrant makes this so in the European Union countries which have signed up.
Only the UK-USA seems to have this peculiar lopsided arrangement.
Many countries including the USA, would not extradite their own citizens without prima facie evidence having to be given.
In many countries hacking is not even considered to be a crime.
There are many countries which will simply not allow the extradition of their nationals abroad under any circumastances e.g. Japan., but will try them at home on evidence from overseas.
Gary's evidence/hard drives were in the UK and were (possibly "illegally") taken to and left in America.
Having the evidence in the UK would afford Gary more rights to be tried in his own country, so the UK have actively acted against one of their own citizens and have thus contributed to attempt to prevent him from having a trial in his own country.
As you know; the UK government recently released illegal immigrants that included child abusers, rapists and murderers by mistake and many are still free in this country.
Yet our same government wants to extradite Gary McKinnon who has no previous criminal record and has never hurt anyone.
Mr McKinnon's parents have fostered twent four children in the past four years and have given these children a fresh start in life.
It is therefore all the more ironic that they have had the worry of this proposed extradition of their only child, hanging over their heads for four years.
Mr McKinnon's parents also make community films which are regularly screened on television and they have written much loved children's books which are stocked in many primary schools and in Foyle's bookshops.
Gary McKinnon is a musician who has written and performed music for his parent's community film. They have a very small but very close family; many of whom work for social services.
Gary McKinnon and his family, are a good example of a caring, creative and honourable family. They work to help the community; they foster disadvantaged children, they produce independent community/social films and write and illustrate children's books.
These are not the kind of people who should be made an example of.
Our government want to just hand Gary McKinnon over to America, to face a possible outrageous sixty years imprisonment in an American prison for a crime that is far from serious and where there is no real victim.
This is so out of proportion that it is making fools out of both the British and the American government in the eyes of the world.
The British people and parliament were told that this unsigned and unratified extradition "treaty"? was to be used for terrorists but it is being used against white collar workers such as Gary McKinnon and the Nat West Three, none of whom are terrorists.
America will never sign this "treaty" as it would be against their constitution to do so. The Irish American lobby are also very against this treaty ever being signed by America and it will never happen.
Gary McKinnon did not hack into the US military sites, he had no need as there were no passwords. Gary trespassed, it was unauthorised access, no more.
Ten years after Mathew Bevan was accused of virtually the same crime, the US military have still not improved their security and their systems were and probably still are as vulnerable as ever.
Mathew Bevan had the good fortune to be tried in the UK, in his own country.
Everyone knows you don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It just doesn't make sense.
Free Gary, let him apologise, let him teach kids not to go trespassing in secret areas of cyberworld and let the US military get in some security experts who understand IT.
Don't shoot the messenger or no one will get the message.
You don't extradite people for unauthorised computer access without looking like extremists, it just doesn't make sense.
Gary isn't a good distraction from Osama Bin Forgotten?
The US government was once respected as being the good guys; their image has been tarnished and they are now being viewed by much of the world as somewhat power crazed global bullies.
Perhaps the Pentagon should be investigating why its allegedly so-very-important IT systems did not even have the most cursory forms of protection in place; protection that even the computer you are using now to read this is likely to have installed.
Please don't hand our citizens over to America unless they are murderers or are accused of heinous crimes and please don't make computer intrusion an extraditable offence. It is totally out of proportion and goes against all sense of natural justice.
The potential punishment in this case does not fit the crime and the potential sentence was not a deterrent, because it was not even known to the likes of Gary that either extradition or this out of proportion sentence could even be a remote possibility.
The American civilian establishments/universities Gary trespassed into have stated that Gary caused no damage. They were then removed from the original indictment by the US military/government who don't appear to want this known. This is a cause for concern.
Gary denies causing damage. The US have to claim damage as without a certain amount of financial damage they cannot extradite Gary. So magically there is supposedly a certain amount of damage.
The computers were shut down because the military found out Gary had accessed their computers without authorisation.
Any corporate business would have had their computers up and running again the same day and would have had tighter security in the first place.
This is the worlds superpower we're talking about. Surely they can afford to pay for IT security workers who know what they're doing and have back up systems in place.
So one little computer nerd (who is far from an expert) supposedly shuts down the entire US military network at a stroke on a primitive and pathetic dial up machine from his girlfriends flat!!!
If this becomes common knowledge it will belittle the US security system in the eyes of the world and will make the US government look very foolish and will inflame and outrage US citizens. No one wants this.
There is no victim and no crime other than trespassing, as the doors were wide open. There were no passwords and no firewalls.
Nothing has been stolen, there were only blank, therefore no passwords to steal.
Since when do we extradite people for trespassing, or for unauthorised computer access? It makes no sense and is an insult to British citizens and to the British legal system.
It makes a total nonsense of this new unsigned, one sided treaty, which is already viewed as a nonsense and is making the UK government look as though it is being dictated to by the US. .
People do much worse things than Gary, such as writing and sending viruses which are intended to destroy data and hard drives and to make computers inoperable. Gary didn't do any of that.
President Bush and Tony Blair say they are fighting 'Terror' in the name of a free democracy.
In doing so our civil rights, the very thing we hold close in a free world, are being eroded and we will probably never see those rights again. Soon we'll have no democracy left to fight for and we might as well be living in a hard line Islamic state.
I'm sure that Gary would agree to anything and give any public apologies necessary and would give kids lectures advising them not to hack; if he could be tried in his own country. Which isn't a lot to ask.
Gary and his family have had this hanging over their heads for four years and they are extremely good and kind people.
Gary had decided to stop doing research on the internet four years ago and was wiping his drives when the Hi-Tech crime squad entered his girlfiends home, took his computer (and his girlfriends aunt's computer)and took Gary and his girlfriend to the police station. (and I think his girlfiends niece)
They would not let Gary's girlfiend go home (or her niece) until Gary had "confessed" to unauthorised access and being the gentleman that he is; Gary did just that.
Gary was told he would face a possible six months community service but in the end the CPS decided against prosecuting Gary.
Please give this family a break, as their lives have not only been put on hold for four years but each day for them has become torment as they are so afraid for their sons future
The US military's IT security was worse than anyone could imagine and trying to say that Gary is a computer genius in order to cover up their serious failings doesn't wash.
The US administration have a responsibility towards their citizens to protect and care for their own people. They have failed to do this by their own premeditated negligence by knowingly setting up networks with weak security thereby threatening their own national security by being their own enemy.
Now they seek to detract attention by using a scapegoat who has clearly caused no harm at all. It takes an IT person in an entry level security job, such as a helpdesk, to understand that the easiest access to any door, is simply to leave it open.
The possible sixty year sentence that hangs over Gary McKinnon's head for his alleged crimes are wholly disproportionate. People serve a fraction of that time for murder. Yet in this case, the US Government alleges that one man on a two bit computer on dial up mode, shut down their systems.
This is completely shocking and potentialy hugely embarrassing for the US government and is probably the reason they will try to have Gary tried in secret.
It would have been much easier if they had just let Gary go and no one would have been any the wiser. Or let Gary be tried in his own country to face a proportionate sentence.
It was the US lack of passwords and basic firewall security that caused them to have to shut down their own systems.
Please Free Gary.
Please don't extradite anyone for unauthorised computer intrusion. You will only be contributing to the imprisonment of UK citizens in the US; whilst foreign hackers who may be dangerous will not be deterred.
Only by having good amateur UK hackers, will ours and America's government computer systems be continually tested by unpaid computer hobbyists. Better this than to have foreign hackers inside our computer systems without anyone knowng.
If Gary is extradited his parents will have to stop fostering groups of underprivileged siblings, which will in turn prevent those children from having a better chance in life.
Instead Gary's parents will be forced to spend much of their time in America to be with and to campaign on behalf of their son.
Gary's mother has a strong sense of justice and Gary is her only child.
If Gary were to be tried in secret in the US, Gary's mother would be standing side by side with the likes of Cindy Sheehan and would make sure that the world knew the truth; she is not the kind of mother who would lie down and roll over.
Gary's parents have up until now chosen to keep a low profile and have hoped that the British (and American) government would see sense and refuse the extradition of their son.
Gary's parents have turned down the opportunity to appear on national and international television because they did not want to become involved in the media circus. However they know that if the persecution of their son continues they will have no choice but to fight with all of their might to try and prevent what they see as a huge over reaction and out of proportion abuse of power against their only son.
Please Free Gary!!! I beg you.
JayJay, 14 years ago.