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18 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/infctel18 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communications Technology Law                               Routledge
Vol. 18, No. 1, March 2009, 1-12                                       R  Taylor&Francis Group
Hackers beware: the cautionary story of Gary McKinnon
Paul Arnella* and Alan Reidb
aDepartment of Law, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK,. bSchool of Management
and Law, Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
The law of extradition was changed following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the
United States. Subsequent practice has seen the range of extraditable offences
expand to include acts not traditionally regarded as terrorist crimes. The case of
Gary McKinnon provides one such example. This article describes and analyses
the facts and law surrounding the extradition of McKinnon, and concludes that
those involved in cyberspace in the United Kingdom should be very conscious of
the long arm of United States criminal law.
Keywords: extradition; jurisdiction; United States; computer misuse
Gary McKinnon stands to be imminently extradited from the United Kingdom to
the United States. He has been charged there with crimes relating to his gaining
access to NASA and Pentagon computer systems. McKinnon faces the possibility of
a lengthy prison sentence, estimated to be between 8-102 and 703 years in an
American high security prison. To add to the severity of this possible fate, it has been
alleged that he has been threatened with rape in jail in the United States if
imprisoned there.4 McKinnon faces this fate in spite of not setting foot in the United
States in pursuance of his alleged crimes. All his acts were committed from the
relative comfort of his then girlfriend's flat in Wood Green, North London. The only
direct link between his acts and the United States are bytes of data electronically
transferred over the Internet from London.
As a result of his actions he is sought by the American authorities. In response,
he has fought a long legal battle against extradition, starting in 2004. The judicial
opposition began in Bow Street Magistrates' Court. After losing his arguments there,
his case was passed to the Secretary of State, who then ordered his extradition.
McKinnon then lost appeals in the High Court5 and the House of Lords,6 and his
recent petition to the European Court of Human Rights seeking an injunction
against extradition has also been refused.7 This article first describes the facts and
applicable criminal and extradition law in McKinnon's case. It then examines his
judicial battle against extradition. Analysis of salient facts and criticisms of the case
then follow. It concludes by suggesting that, as the law stands, the long arm of
*Corresponding author. Email: p.arnell@rgu.ac.uk
ISSN 1360-0834 print/ISSN 1469-8404 online
@ 2009 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13600830902727822

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