#FreeGary to stay in the UK

Today, Theresa May announced that she was prohibiting the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the United States on computer hacking charges. She did this via an announcement to the House of Commons which can be watched on www.parliamentlive.tv. I come to the conclusion that she’s a class act. I also watched her yesterday dealing with Parliamentary Questions on the #snooperscharter. PQs are difficult for the opposition, the government always gets the last word, and so with only one intervention it can be desperately hard to get one’s point across; it’s too easy for a Minister to ignore the question and answer one they want too. Today she announced, in an hour long question and answer session that

  1. she was exercising her right of prerogative to stop the McKinnon extradition
  2. she was going to introduce new procedures to ensure that British Citizens get to be prosecuted in the UK for crimes committed in the UK
  3. she was not planning to demand that the US, (or other extradition counterparties) present their evidence to UK courts
  4. she would seek to end politician’s role in extradition process

Her decision is taken because on review of the evidence she believes that McKinnon’s Human Rights would be breached if he were to be extradited to the US. She has received medical evidence that he was a significant suicide risk and his European Convention , Article 3 rights, the right to life would be at risk.

I am deeply unsure that this makes good or fair law.

She has abdicated the fundamental tests of extradition, that it must be a serious crime in both states to the courts; the treaty prohibits that British Courts from evaluating the evidence to determine if there is a British legal case to answer, the Home Secretary can now only use prerogative to defend a suspects Human Rights, and she wants to give that away.

Despite this most MPs on both sides of the house seemed pleased, although some Labour MPs raise the issue of Babar Ahamd and Syed Talha Ahsan who may have both benefited from forum bars since their alleged illegal acts cannot have taken place in the USA; they have never been there. Despite this, their families expressed their solidarity with McKinnon and his family.  Only Alan Johnson MP raised the issue that when the medical evidence was reviewed in an open court, it rejected the arguments that McKinnon was too ill to face trial, or punishment, in the USA.

Keith Vaz made a good argument that the British Courts should evaluate if there is sufficient evidence that there is a case to answer, and that politicians should keep the prerogative power to ensure that extraordinary clemency in the case of McKinnon or extraordinary vengence in the case of Pinochet can remain part of the system. (Although the last case didn’t work so well, did it; but that’s because Jack Straw left it to the judges.)

Yvette Cooper made a very balanced speech, welcoming the ruling, offering parliamentary help in sensible reform of the extradition laws and asking what precedents this created both for international pursuit of computer criminals and for others currently under threat of extradition, including Richard O’Dwyer. No answers were forth coming on the latter two questions.

For more on the Mckinnon case, read this at the Guardian and this, from David Allen Green in the New Statesman, who documents the changing arguments of the Mckinnon defence.

I wish Richard O and Julia the best, but I don’t think the law reform proposed will be quick enough, although McKinnon dragged it out for 10 years, so there’s still hope, but I think May closed doors for Richard today.

ooOOOoo

Does anyone know if Richard can have the extradition hearing reviewed; I still stand to the view that what he did isn’t a crime in the UK and so he shouldn’t have to face trial in the USA.

The Director of Public Prosecutions must now decide if there is a case to answer in the UK and if it’s in the public interest to prosecute. Do we then need to see if anyone will seek to bring a private prosecution if they decide not.

Yankee Law, freedom and the internet!

The White House, in a reply to a petition on its e-petitions site calling for them to oppose the current legislative attempts to censor the internet in the name of anti-piracy says, among other things,

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected. To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity…..”

It adds,

We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.”

It’s a shame they didn’t come to this conclusion earlier and continued to permit the US Trade Representative and the US’s Embassies the world over to lobby and bully for Hollywood’s laws and to seek extradition clearly non-criminal behaviour.

I demand that the US Government withdraw their extradition request for Richard O’Dwyer; its not in-line with the policy above. O’Dwyer is not a criminal; links are legal in the UK. (So actually, it is my view that foreign nationals should not lobby the US Government, just as I do not expect foreign nationals, or tax non-domiciles to finance politics in the UK . I have,however, signed one anti-SOPA petition; it was clearly labelled as a global initiative, so I would ask my US friends and comrades to take up O’Dwyer’s case. )

It is a disgrace that the White House can grandstand for its own fundamental rights and laws and its own business innovation while funding an oppressive lobbying regime and the legal pursuit of hobbyists.

It is a disgrace that British politicians and Judges, spinelessly permit this abuse to occur.

It is a disgrace that American legislators are prepared to attack the freedom of speech for the rest of the world in order to protect the super-profits of billionaires.

How not to extradite…

Britian in EuropeSo earlier today, UK Human Rights blog reported that the UK courts stated that Sweden’s application for the extradition of Julian Assange was valid and that he should be returned in custody to Sweden. I thought and hoped the case would hinge upon the fact that the Swedish prosecutors had not charged Assange and as such the UK would reject the extradition. The European Arrest Warrant should not be allowed, and I understood wasn’t permitted unless there is a case to answer in court. It seemed to me that it had been issued by the Prosecutor’s office in order to “help them with their inquiries”.

The UK’s ancient “Habeas Corpus” rights today ensure that people can only be held for a very short period of time before being charged, unless the courts permit longer due to terrorism concerns, the result of a shameful piece of legislation by the last Government.

I am not sure we should extradite anyone to permit questioning, i.e. we shouldn’t allow foreign police to go trawling for evidence in a way that we deny our own police.

So advice to Mark Stephens, “Stop fannying around about fitness for office, look at the case; are they ready to prosecute or not?”

I am afraid if they are, games up!