Computer Weekly has discovered that the evidence in support of the US government’s extradition request against Gary McKinnon is fundamentally flawed:
Evidence supplied by the US authorities to the UK to support legal proceedings against Pentagon Hacker, Gary McKinnon, relies on hearsay and may be impossible to prove in court, according to an internal Crown Prosecution Service document.The document obtained by Computer Weekly calls into question the forensic evidence supplied by the US to link McKinnon to hacked US military systems. It casts doubt on claims that McKinnon’s activities damaged thousands of US military computers.
The document, Review Note 3 – 26 February 2009, was complied by Russell Tyner, lawyer for the CPS’s Organised Crime division for the Department of Public Prosectutions.
The DPP used the review to support its decision of 26 February not to prosecute McKinnon in the UK. It concluded that there was not enough evidence.
The gaps include:
- Proof identifying each of the computers hacked
- An image of each computer
- A forensic report of each computer, linking access and file modifications to McKinnon
- Evidence to prove that accusations made against McKinnon were not merely hearsay,
- Evidence that McKinnon’s activities caused impairment of US systems
- Evidence that his activities left computers vulnerable to intrusion.
I know that the Extradition Act 2003 doesn’t require that any of this has to stand up at the point of the extradition request (in the UK), but surely if the evidence is already known not to stand up under US law then why bother with all this? If the Deparment of Public Prosecutions feels that the evidence wouldn’t stand up in an American court (and that it doesn’t in a British one), I find it even more amazing that there is still no legal remedy to preventing this mean-spirited extradition, which still appears to be pursued out of the US government’s embarrassment more than anything else. The Home Office is refusing to disclose the legal advice it continues to cling to, in its refusal to intervene.
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