Saturday, August 01, 2009

US Demand that Britain Extradite Asperger's Sufferer.

One of the worst deals Tony Blair ever came to while he was prime Minister was to make a one way extradition process with the US where British citizens, suspected of terrorism, had to be extradited if the US demanded it, without the US ever having to produce any evidence in a court of law. Of course, eventually it has become possible for the US to bring UK businessmen to the US that they wish to charge with crimes, so the treaty has widened from it's original "terrorist" targets.

The US has never ratified the deal on it's side of the pond so it remains a one way extradition process.

So, the fact that the court simply has to comply with any American request for extradition when it is claimed that terrorism is involved, had an awful lot to do with why the high court yesterday refused to reconsider the case of Gary McKinnon, a sufferer of Asperger's syndrome and a known UFO fanatic who had hacked into 97 US military and Nasa computers, causing more than $700,000 in damage according to the US, looking for evidence of UFO activity.

Even the high court has made clear that it has worries regarding how someone like McKinnon will cope with incarceration in the US system.

Lawyers for the 43-year-old, who have already announced they will appeal against the decision, said they were encouraged by a display of sympathy for McKinnon in the judgment, which acknowledged expert evidence of a "high risk of serious deterioration in his mental health and a risk of suicide".

"I have no doubt that he will find extradition to, and trial and sentence and detention in, the US very difficult indeed," said Lord Justice Stanley Burnton. "His mental health will suffer. There are risks of worse, including suicide."

The judge added: "But … the sentence that will be imposed by the US courts will take account of his diagnosis of Asperger's and the difficulties that he will in consequence face in a US prison."

It's senseless to me that this case should even be going ahead. Yes, he shouldn't have done what he did, but what is the point of extraditing a person with autism all the way to the United States to face charges?

Are they seeking to make an example of this man so that others don't emulate what he did?

And even the Tories are starting to look for ways to amend Blair's astonishingly one sided extradition treaty.

The case comes two weeks after the Conservatives proposed an amendment to extradition law which would have allowed courts to block extraditions in cases where a significant part of the offence was committed in the UK and where extradition was "not in the interests of justice".

"This would have made a huge difference to McKinnon's case," said a spokesman for the human rights group Liberty.

The decision is likely to build further support for McKinnon, who has been backed by civil rights groups and senior Liberal Democrats and Tories."I am deeply saddened with this decision", said the Tory leader, David Cameron. "Gary McKinnon is a vulnerable young man and I see no compassion in sending him thousands of miles away from his home and loved ones to face trial."

"Today's judgment is a hammer blow to a vulnerable man," said Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.

The case has also led to criticism of the Anglo-US extradition treaty, which critics say is tipped towards the US. New figures reveal Britain has extradited twice as many suspects to the US as have gone the other way. Critics say this indicates Britons have "second-class status" when it comes to being sent for trial in the US. "Today's court decision demonstrates the disgrace that is Britain's extradition arrangements that allow vulnerable people to be shipped off around the world when they should be tried here at home," said Isabella Sankey, Liberty policy director.

"There is no way the American government would hang out one of their citizens to dry in the same way," said Huhne. "

I find it fairly shameful that Blair ever came to such a deal with Bush that America can demand our citizens are extradited and that there is little our courts can do other can comply. But, when the people being extradited are autism sufferers, then that shame turns to rage. Is there a single person on the planet who actually believes that this man is a terrorist? Does anyone believe he represents a danger? And, if not, then why the Hell are we going through with this charade? Repetitive behaviour is part of his disorder, so why are we acting as if he is responsible for his actions?

What is being done to this man is disgraceful. Everyone knows his condition, and to say that the US will take it into account when sentencing him is simply fanciful. The time to take his condition into consideration is now. Before we pack him up and send him half way across the world to face prosecution.

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