Gary McKinnon (born 10 February 1966) is a Scottish systems administrator and hacker who has been accused of what one U.S. prosecutor claims is the “biggest military computer hack of all time” although McKinnon himself states that he was merely looking for evidence of free-energy suppression and a cover-up of UFO activity and other technologies potentially useful to the public. After a series of legal proceedings in England, McKinnon is currently awaiting extradition to the United States.
McKinnon was totally stoned on cannabis when he hacked into the computers, leaving angry comments about American foreign policy. His lawyers claim that no harm was done and that the charge that it cost the United States Government $800,000 to repair the damage was made simply to justify the extradition. If convicted on all charges, McKinnon could face 70 years in jail in the United States. The newly elected government of Conservative David Cameron is looking into the matter while hoards of celebrities, including Sting and Julie Christie, plan to hold a benefit concert to protest the extradition and raise funds for his legal expenses.
Psychiatrists who have examined McKinnon say he suffers from a form of autism and from severe depression. They are convinced that were he to go to an American prison he would most certainly commit suicide. Knowledgeable Americans who assert that the American justice system does not provide adequately for the needs of the mentally ill and the handicapped have backed this.
But beyond this is the claim by McKinnon, who downloaded American military files–particularly those from a secret center to study UFOs, that he saw a photograph of a strange “cigar-like” object floatng in space surrounded by geodesic domes. Was he hallucinating from the marijuana? or was what he observed real?
American authorities have offered a plea deal in which McKinnon pleads guilty in exchange for 30-45 months in prison but he has turned it down because he doesn’t believe they will keep their word once he agrees to extradition. He also wants to be tried in the U.K. and spend his time in a British prison should a British court sentence him to jail. But what is at stake here resembles the WikiLeaks scandal and the persecution of Julian Assange for posting classified diplomatic cables on the Internet. It is a little creepy that so much secrecy surrounds our daily lives, to the point that, in fact, we have no idea what is really going on.
Newt Gingrich has called Assange a terrorist who should be tried as an enemy combatant. Mike Huckabee says he should be executed for treason, notwithstanding that he is not an American and what he did is protected by the First Amendment. Attorney General Holder is nevertheless examining his options for a criminal prosecution. So far, the only public figure to defend Assange is the redoubtable Congressman Ron Paul, who has said that what Assange does is journalism, even if he publishes on the Web and is consequently protected by the First Amendment. But more than this, Paul has praised Assange for what he is doing, decrying the secrecy that surrounds critical decision-making, such as the decision to go to war. The right of Americans to know, he argues, is of paramount importance if America is to be a true democracy.
McKinnon’s case is different in that Assange relies on sources that provide him with his material in a traditional journalistic manner while McKinnon is the one who did the hacking. Although the American military blames McKinnon for the non-functioning of critical computers directly after nine- eleven and points to his statements about continuing to wage computer war against America for what he alleges is American terrorism in its foreign policy, the American authorities offer no proof of any harm done to the computers.The 2003 extradition treaty between the United States and Britain does not require proof of an alleged crime for an accused to be extradited, however, and McKinnon’s situation is not good. His mother says he is suicidal and requires medical help.
But what if what McKinnon claims he saw actually existed? This could be the reason for the pressure the American authorities are bringing to bear in this case. Suppose it is true that the government has been hiding evidence that UFOs actually exist. Why not? They hide everything else. The strange case of Gary McKinnon should give us pause. Dragging him off to jail for the rest of his life would effectively close the matter. Britain should not extradite him. They should try him and sentence him to get medical attention in a government facility. He may be mad, but then again, he may just be telling the truth about UFOs.