US extradition of UK IT offenders

Home Secretary Theresa May has blocked extradition of Gary McKinnon to the United States on account of his mental state.  I think this is a very good move from UK Government, which has shown some courage in its stand on relationship with the US.

What is the case against Gary McKinnon?  The US has accused Gary hacked in to US Government computers – which Gary has admitted as well.

But this crime was committed in the UK, and hence UK should trial this case under UK’s judiciary system – and sentence Gary, if found guilty.   I understand, and fully agree with this argument.  UK’s justice system – and IT related laws – is pretty robust and our justice system is good enough to proceed with this trial.

Labour has criticised this decision of Home Secretary, but I think they are just behaving like any typical opposition is expected to behave.

Cautious support for the Government has come in from another interesting quarter – camp of Babar Ahmad, who was extradited to US only a few days ago.  Babar Ahmad was extradited on charges that he ran an allegedly  provocative website for a period of time against US interests.

How is the extradition case of Gary McKinnon different from that of Babar Ahmad?  Surely in both cases, the crime was committed in UK, though the injured party is US?  I think the deciding factor in case of Babar Ahmad is – the website in question was hosted in US, which gives US the jurisdiction power.

That said, I do not think Babar Ahmad has been given full justice either.  In his defence, he was in jail for 8 years – without any trial.  At end of 8 years, he was extradited to US on the same case.  We should also not forget that The Metropolitan Police admitted that he was severely assaulted during his initial arrest and paid him £60,000 in compensation.  At the end, “Not guilty till proven” is still the motto that governs UK laws – which I think was not granted to Babar Ahmad.

No doubt these cases will be compared and discussed in coming weeks by internet, social media and press. No doubt there will be support for Babar Ahmad’s accusation that there is double standard in UK Government’s decision – one verdict for Gary and another for Babar Ahmad.

But I still think the decisions on both cases are correct in their own rights.

Why? The simple reason being Gary acted alone, and his intention was not bringing physical harm to any other individual, but rather an obsession on UFOs. In case of Babar Ahmad, whether proven or not, there is a possible intention to cause direct and/or indirect harm to fellow human beings – that too with possible involvement of more than one person, which is a more serious offence.  As rest of the accused are already extradited and will be trialled in US, it will be convenient for both sides to argue it out in the same court.

This is my personal opinion. What are your thoughts?

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