The extradition of British citizens to the US for trial on charges which do not relate to them personally committing any crime in the USA, or even, in many cases, ever having been in the US, is an affront to natural justice and another example of the biggest bully in the playground making the rules up as he goes along – with the total acquiescence of the lesser bullies.
Recently we have seen the Home Secretary, Theresa May, break the long time habit, built up since the 2003 the Extradition Act was agreed with the US by the then Labour government without any debate, of accepting without question any ‘request’ from the US to have any UK citizen dragged over the Atlantic in chains.
Gary McKinnon, (hacking name ‘Solo’) accused in 2002 of committing the biggest military computer hack of all time, has never denied either the hacking of US military computer systems from his girlfriend’s aunt’s house in London or that he left messages on them. It seems many ‘hackers’ are prone to autism or autism makes them prone to hacking – either way Gary McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and depression.
The charge sheet, according to US imperialism, of hacking into 97 United States military and NASA computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002 includes
1) That he deleted critical files from operating systems shutting down the US Army’s Military District of Washington network of 2,000 computers for 24 hours.
2) That he posted a notice on the military’s website: “Your security is crap”.
3) Following the September 11 attacks, he deleted weapons logs at the Earle Naval Weapons Station, rendering its network of 300 computers inoperable and paralyzing munitions supply deliveries for the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet.
4) Copying data, account files and passwords onto his own computer.
US imperialism claims that the cost of finding and solving the problems he caused was over $700,000.
And yet his extradition to the tender mercies of US imperialism’s brutal prison regime has been blocked. We certainly are not complaining that this man will not now taste US penal hospitality but why have others been forced to take the trip that he has now been spared?
It cannot be because his crimes, if indeed he is guilty of anything, were only carried out in Britain because Abu Hamza is not accused of doing anything in the US and, indeed, has also never been to that country. That goes also for Babar Ahmed and Talha Ahsan also taken to the US on the same day as Abu Hamza just 10 days before McKinnon’s extradition was blocked.
Abu Hamza has not admitted the charges made against him and it is widely believed that any evidence against him in Jordan is based on ‘confessions’ of others extracted under torture (such ‘confessions’ being notoriously unreliable). Such ‘evidence’ as exists in London is very scanty and poor. Babar Ahmed has never been charged with anything, mainly because of a lack of evidence. The Metropolitan Police have collected some information, they say, on Babar Ahmed, but this will never see the light of a court in this country. It was passed, such as it is, onto the US where ‘evidence’ doesn’t require even as much verification as English courts would demand
So perhaps it is McKinnon’s illness that makes him different, since after all, to quote Theresa May’s words, “Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.” That sounds suspiciously like someone who understands that in America McKinnon would probably serve the rest of his life in solitary confinement but again, why is she suddenly worried about someone’s suffering at the hands of US imperialism? She had just sent a group of men to just that fate 10 days earlier knowing full well that they will suffer.
Abu Hamza has diabetes, high blood pressure, psoriasis, no hands and he is blind in one eye. Yet even in the UK, he was detained in Belmarsh Prison as a Category A escape risk. He has suffered chronic sleep deprivation resulting from hourly night-time checks since 2004, such that he will, in the opinion of a consultant psychiatrist, be unable properly to deal with the details of his case – let alone the fact that he will never see his family again. Even if they can afford to go to America they will probably be refused visas.
Another extradite, Talha Ahsan, also suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome but that wasn’t a problem for the Home Secretary 10 days earlier.
So is it the colour of the prisoners concerned that makes the real difference? That certainly seems nearer the mark – and add to that the fact that they are Moslems, militant Moslems at that. All the anti-Moslem prejudices that are being pushed by the news industry, popular media and successive governments have been operating on full power to ensure that these men had no chance of escaping extradition.
McKinnon had plenty of high profile support which was denied to Hamza and co. such as the 80 British MPs who signed an Early Day Motion calling for any custodial sentence imposed by an American court to be served in a prison in the UK (of course, an EDM is not really much support but marginally better than nothing). In mid-November 2008, the rock group Marillion announced that it was ready to participate in a benefit concert in support of Gary McKinnon’s struggle to avoid extradition to United States. Many other pop stars and celebrities have given Gary verbal support, including Sting, Trudie Styler, Julie Christie, David Gilmour, Graham Nash, Peter Gabriel, The Proclaimers, Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde, Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross. In the political field, support for his campaign against extradition has been voiced by David Cameron, Boris Johnson (Mayor of London), Terry Waite, Tony Benn, Chris Huhne, Lord Carlile, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party of England and Wales and Liberty. The Scottish Newspaper The Herald and The Daily Mail have also supported his right to both a trial and any possible term of imprisonment to be in Britain. The National Autistic Society can happily support McKinnon’s claim to be allowed to stand trial in the country he lives in and where any possible crime was committed, and yet not a peep has been heard from them in the case of fellow autistic sufferer, Talha Ahsan, when he was handed over to the US..
It doesn’t take a genius to work out why all these people didn’t raise so much as a whisper against the actual extradition of a bunch of Asian, Moslem radicals ten days prior to Gary McKinnon being spared – but for the record, the USA is not the home of human rights, nor is Britain for that matter, but, people who live here and are accused of crimes here should be tried here and if found guilty serve their sentence here where at least their families can keep some contact.