McKinnon earns Lords appeal
Pentagon hacker in legal victory
By John Leyden
Published Tuesday 31st July 2007 10:30 GMT
Gary McKinnon, the British hacker facing extradition over
allegations he broke into US Military and NASA sites, has earned the
right to take his case to the House of Lords.
The law Lords agreed to hear arguments that US authorities acted in
an "oppressive" and "arbitrary" manner during plea bargaining
negotiations, for example by allegedly threatening McKinnon over the
loss of rights to serve part of his sentence in the UK unless he
submitted to voluntary extradition.
The House of Lords was not bound to consider McKinnon's final appeal
- for example it declined to hear the appeal of the NatWest Three
bankers, so the Lords' decision is a significant fillip for McKinnon
and his legal team.
Gary's lawyers were allowed to petition the House of Lords (not all
the hundreds of Peers of the Realm who sit in the upper legislative
chamber of Parliament, but the half a dozen or so Law Lords, the most
senior Judges in the United Kingdom) on two points of law.
The legal Question which appears to have been rejected, is the same point which Babar Ahmad's
legal team were trying to make about the dubious unsigned Diplomatic
Notes issued by the US Embassy, promising a Federal civilian trial,
rather than a Military Tribunal, even though it is plain that only the
US President can make such a decision, and he can change his mind at
any time, regardless of what the US State Department promises.
"Gary McKinnon is delighted to learn of this important development," his barrister, Ben Cooper of Charter chambers, toldThe Guardian.
McKinnon is fighting against extradition to the US on hacking
offences after losing an appeal in April. Only the Law Lords now stand
between the Scot and a US trial for allegedly breaking into and
damaging 97 US government computers between 2001 and 2002 and causing
an estimated $700,000 worth of damage, in what US authorities have
described as the "biggest military" computer hack ever.
The former sys admin, who lives in London, admits he infiltrated
computer systems without permission but disputes the seriousness US
authorities attach to his attacks.
The 41-year-old has said he gained access to military networks -
using a Perl script to search for default passwords - but describes
himself as a bumbling amateur motivated by curiosity about evidence of
UFOs rather than a cyberterrorist.
McKinnon and his team have consistently argued that he ought to be tried in the UK. No date has been set for the House of Lords hearing. In the meantime, McKinnon remains on bail.
Press Release from Gary McKinnon's legal team - appeal to the House of Lords
Here is the text of the Press Release form Gary's lawyers, (Kaim Todner solicitors) following his lost Appeal to the High Court today. It gives some idea of the grounds on which his appeal to the House of Lords will be made.
Remember that the House of Lords does not automatically have to decide to hear such an appeal - they refused to do so in the case of the NatWest 3 bankers, David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew but have done so in the case of Ian Norris, the retired chairman of Morgan Crucible.
McKinnon v USA and Secretary of State for Home Dpt.
Gary McKinnon will apply for leave to appeal to the House of Lords within 14 days.
The High Court has expressed its disapproval of the deliberately coercive plea bargaining tactics deployed by the US in the strongest possible terms.
See paragraph 54 of the judgement of the High Court: "We make no secret of the fact that we view with a degree of distaste the way in which the American authorities are alleged to have approached the plea bargain negotiations. Viewed from the perspective of an English court the notion that a prosecutor may seek to induce a plea of guilty on the basis that substantial benefits will be withdrawn if one is not forthcoming is anathema. We refer on particular to the providing and withdrawal of support towards repatriation. " [Paragraph 54 of the judgement]
We regret that the Court has not expressed its clear disapproval of the US Government's arbitrary interference with due process by halting Gary McKinnon's extradition as an abuse of the process of the English courts.
In order to coerce his voluntary surrender, Mr McKinnon was subjected to threats by the US authorities during the course of plea bargain negotiations. The US sought to coerce the appellant into consenting to his extradition without a formal request being made to the UK authorities and thereafter pleading guilty in the US. The threats made included relaying to Mr McKinnon that New Jersey prosecutors expressed the intention to see Mr McKinnon "fry". the evidence of Mr Dratel is that this is a reference to capital punishment by th electric chair. This was a chilling and intimidating threat. Further the US threatened that Mr McKinnon would receive a significantly and disproportionately longer sentence if he refused to cooperate with the deal being tabled. Furthermore, it was made clear that the appellant would be forced to serve the entirety of that sentence in the US, with no prospect of repatriation. The Us authorities stated that the appellant's refusal to cooperate would result in his repatriation to the UK being blocked.
In the course of these discussions the US made it clear that it would be looking for an extremely lengthy sentence and that it would not allow Mr McKinnon to be tried in England because the English courts' sentencing powers was not of sufficient severity. It is submitted that this does not constitute a valid reason for extraditing a British citizen from his homeland where he has never visited the US and the conduct alleged took place in the UK. It is submitted that a desire to make an example out of the appellant by ensuring that he receives a much longer sentence than his own courts would consider to be adequate punishment constitutes an improper and vexatious motive for making an extradition request.
Mr McKinnon complains that the conduct of the US , the threats it made to the the appellant and its motive for requesting his extradition was each oppressive and abusive, engaging the appellant's article 594) right. further, the appellant submits that the bid by the US to ensure that their tactical deployment of coercive plea bargaining in this case would remain a secret from the court itself demonstrates that such an extra-judicial process should have no part to play in the legal process. There is express statutory provision fora defendant to consent to extradition if he chooses to do so. No one should be punished for exercising his statutory right to contest extradition. in USA v Cobb
"52. By placing undue pressure on Canadian citizens to forego due legal process in Canada, the foreign State has disentitled itself from pursuing its recourse before the courts and attempting to show why extradition should legally proceed....
53. [The judge] was also correct in concluding as he did that this was one of the clearest cases where to proceed further with the extradition hearing would violate "those fundamental principles of justice which underlie the community's sense of fair play and decency" (Keyowski, supra, at pp.658 59)..."
It is submitted that the US placed undue pressure on Mr McKinnon and made clear its intent to punish him for failing to succumb to that pressure. It is admitted that the conduct of the US in this case can be properly characterised as oppressive and vexatious such that the House of Lords should allow Mr McKinnon's appeal.
Furthermore the appellant contends that the US threat to impose an extremely lengthy sentence as punishment for not cooperating with an inherently coercive plea bargain amounts to a flagrant denial of justice such that his article 6 fair trial rights would be violated and that the severity of the consequences in terms of sentence reach the high standard imposed in Soering v. U.K.  11 EHRR 439. It should be noted that these threats were relayed and terms of the "bargain" were offered by Ed Gibson, the assistant legal attaché of the US Embassy in London
Special Agent Ed Gibson has since retired from the FBI and is now the "chief security adviser for Microsoft Ltd" in the United Kingdom.
and therefore the threats derived from the Requesting State itself as well as the prosecution lawyers. The prosecution plays an enhanced role in the US sentencing process by recommending the length of sentence to the court. The role and influence of the prosecution is therefore of great significance in respect of the sentence ultimately passed.
The threat to refuse the the appellant repatriation clearly engages article 8 ECHR. Article 8 cannot be lawfully interfered with in an arbitrary and punitive fashion as promised by the US. Mr McKinnon has a right under the Convention of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons not to have his eligibility for repatriation determined unfairly or arbitrarily. He has a right to have his application considered fairly. The US has made plain its intention to prevent his repatriation on arbitrary grounds, namely to punish him for exercising his statutory rights to contest extradition. This constitutes an invalid and improper reason for preventing a fair determination of the merits of his application and would therefore violate article 8.
The US originally attempted to coerce Mr McKinnon into pleading Guilty by offering him 6 months (12 months at worst) in a US prison and the remainder of a short sentence would be served in the UK, mostly on parole. The US now intends to prosecute Mr McKinnon as a cyber-terrorist, which could lead to him spending the rest of his life in prison in the US with repatriation to serve his sentence in his home country denied as punishment for contesting his extradition.
Mr McKinnon will now be punished for exercising his statutory rights to contest extradition under the Extradition Act. His punishment could not be more severe. It amounts to a life sentence in a foreign country.
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There was no follow-up then in the U.S. Congress or in the White House for Disclosure.
Query: What is the follow-up for Disclosure in the USA now?
ASK, WRITE, CALL THE 2008 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES NOW.
2008 Presidential Candidates - Contact Information
Contact the presidential candidates and ask them what
they would do about secrecy and Disclosure! Go to their town meetings and rallies, write or
fax letters, email, or call them! Thanks very much to Eric T. for calling the candidates and for getting us
the contact information! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
if you find other helpful links.
CAVEAT LECTOR: Informed political sources indicate that former Republican Governor Fyfe Symington III may intend to run for election to public office in Arizona in 2008. Please read Symington's biographical notes at the end of this article and listen to the EXOPOLITICS RADIO episode entitled "The Phoenix Lights" with Dr. Lynne Kitei. Then consider the reliability of this alleged witness before making a final evaluation.
Based on former Gov. Symington's television and radio interviews on major media, including CNN, ABC, and Coast to Coast AM, it does appear that Gov. Symington is sincere about his having seen the reported Phoenix Lights space craft on the night of March 13, 1997. His coming forward at this time is laudatory. However, Gov. Symington has not provided a justifiable or adequate response as to why he did not report his sighting publicly in 1993, as Governor of the State. Gov. Jimmy Carter reported his 1969 UFO sighting in 1973 while Governor of Georgia. Moreover, Gov. Symington, in our view, has not provided a justifiable response at to why he called and held the "spoof" press conference, thereby reinforcing disinformational anti-Extraterrestrial stereotypes, especially since he admits he had just personally witnessed the craft.
Still, under the test of the South African Amnesty Process - that public confession of a crime yields public absolution - Gov. Symington has passed the text. In this case, the potential crime could be stated as potentially knowingly abetting the Extraterrestrial cover-up by his behaviour as Governor of Arizona in 1997.
By this view, the Extraterrestrial cover-up and embargo, aggressively held in place by the U.S. military-intelligence authorities since the early 1950s, may constitute the international humanitarian crime crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the Geneva Conventions.
Fife Symington decides to set record straight ten years after famed “Phoenix Lights” incident
Phoenix, AZ – Ten years after the Arizona UFO incident known as the “Phoenix Lights,” former Arizona Republican Governor Fife Symington, III, now says that he himself was a witness to one of the “craft of unknown origin,” even though he originally did not say so publicly.
In an exclusive interview by Leslie Kean, an investigative reporter with the Washington-based Coalition for Freedom of Information, released today in the Prescott Daily Courier, Symington now admits that he saw an enormous, inexplicable craft that evening.
On March 13, 1997, during Symington’s second term as Governor, thousands saw gigantic triangular and V-shaped unidentified objects, gliding slowly and silently across the sky. Witnesses throughout the state estimated that the eerie, lighted vehicles were bigger than many football fields, up to a mile long.
They reported that these were clearly solid, technological flying machines that blocked out the stars - not merely lights. The objects were seen earlier than the row of lights near Phoenix, videotaped and shown repeatedly on television, which were most likely flares.
Symington was well known for ridiculing the incident at a spoof press conference, so his statement marks a dramatic turnaround. According to his comments to Kean, he wants to make amends to his constituents and set the record straight.
The former Governor, a cousin of the late Missouri Senator Stuart Symington, states that the incident remains unsolved, and should be officially investigated. The U.S. Government has never acknowledged that something was in the sky that night, despite official documentation of a very similar flying craft of unknown origin investigated in the 1990’s by the governments of England and Belgium.
FIFE SYMINGTON DECIDES TO SET RECORD STRAIGHT TEN YEARS AFTER FAMED "PHOENIX LIGHTS" INCIDENT
By Leslie Kean
Ten years after the Arizona UFO incident known as the "Phoenix Lights," former Arizona Republican Governor Fife Symington, III, now says that he himself was a witness to one of the strange unidentified flying objects, even though he originally did not say so publicly.
"It was enormous and inexplicable," he said in an exclusive interview from his home in Phoenix. "Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too."
On March 13, 1997, during Symington�s second term as Governor, thousands saw multiple triangular and V-shaped craft, gliding slowly and silently across the sky for half an hour beginning at approximately 8:15 pm. Awestruck witnesses, throughout the state, estimated that the eerie, lighted vehicles were bigger than many football fields, up to a mile long.
Arizona Senator John McCain, a friend of Symington�s who the former Governor describes as "open-minded," acknowledged at a 2000 press conference that lights were seen over Arizona. "That has never been fully explained. But I have to tell you that I do not have any evidence whatsoever of aliens or UFOs," he said.
The evidence for a possible UFO, which simply means something in the sky that can�t be identified, lies in the fact that countless witnesses reported seeing low, gigantic, technological flying machines that blocked out the stars - not merely lights. Now the former Governor attests to that.
Symington says he saw a large triangular "craft of unknown origin" with lights, moving slowly. "It was dramatic. And it couldn't have been flares because it was too symmetrical," he says. "It had a geometric outline, a constant shape."
The sightings of the objects that evening are sometimes confused with the row of lights that appeared at about 10 pm, near Phoenix, and have been shown repeatedly on television news. These later lights were probably flares. People witnessed the objects at around 8:30 because they were outside on that pleasant, cloudless night watching the Hale-Bopp Comet.
Symington was known for ridiculing the incident at a spoof press conference, so his statement marks a dramatic turnaround. He wants to make amends to his constituents and set the record straight.
On the morning of June 19, 1997, when pressure was building from frustrated citizens who wanted answers, the Governor announced on television that he was ordering a full investigation and would make "all the necessary inquiries. We�re going to get to the bottom of this. We�re going to find out if it was a UFO," he said in a serious tone.
Later that same afternoon, Symington suddenly called a press conference and told viewers that he had found the source behind the Phoenix Lights. His chief-of-staff, Jay Heiler, was escorted in by public safety police officers while handcuffed, wearing a large rubber mask and dressed as a space alien. The Governor presented the costumed extraterrestrial as the "guilty party." While laughter filled the room, he joked that "this just goes to show that you guys are entirely too serious."
"It was an insult to the intelligence of the witnesses," Barwood recalls. "The message to Arizona citizens was that reporting this was stupid."
"If I had to do it all over again I probably would have handled it differently," Symington explains. He says that the state of Arizona was "on the brink of hysteria" about the UFO sighting when he called the press conference, and the frenzy was building. "I wanted them to lighten up and calm down, so I introduced a little levity. But I never felt that the overall situation was a matter of ridicule," he says.
The former Governor, a cousin of the late Missouri Senator Stuart Symington, states that the incident remains open and unsolved, and should be officially investigated. The US Government has never acknowledged that something was in the sky that night.
Phoenix city councilwoman Frances Barwood was the only elected official to launch a public investigation in 1997, but she received no information from any level of government. Barwood spoke with over seven hundred witnesses, including police, pilots and former military, who provided very similar descriptions. "The government never interviewed even one witness," she says.
Symington also attempted to find an explanation. He called the Commander at Luke Air Force Base, the General in charge of the National Guard, and the head of the Department of Public Safety in 1997. None of these officials had answers, and they were "perplexed," he says.
In 2000, the Department of Defense maintained that it could not find any information about the triangular object, in response to a court-ordered search requested by a U.S. District court in Phoenix, as part of a class action suit filed by witnesses.
"How could they possibly not know about these huge craft flying low over major population centers? That�s inconceivable, but it�s also frightening," Barwood commented.
Symington�s announcement is bolstered by the fact that similar flying objects have been documented by the governments of England and Belgium.
On March 30, 1990, the Belgian Air Force sent two F-16s armed with missiles to intercept a black triangular UFO displaying bright lights on its underside. The object could accelerate or dive at tremendous speeds, starting from a stationary position, as recorded on radar. It flew at the speed of sound without making a sonic boom.
The Belgian Ministry of Defense released all its data on the UFO to the press, after eliminating American stealth aircraft and all other possible explanations.
On the night of March 30, 1993, three years later to the day, a vast triangular-shaped craft, also capable of rapidly accelerating in seconds from a virtual hover, was seen by over a hundred witnesses in England, including police officers and military personnel. The British Ministry of Defense stated that "none of the usual explanations put forward to explain UFO sightings seem applicable" and concluded that the evidence showed that "an unidentified object (or objects) of unknown origin was operating over the UK."
According to an April 1993 MOD document, the agency sent a letter to the US Embassy which was "disseminated to all �interested Agencies� in the US" to find out whether the March UFO could have been attributable to some US prototype such as the Aurora.
"The answer I got back was extraordinary," reports Nick Pope, the MOD official who investigated the 1993 sighting. "The Americans had been having their own sightings of these large, triangular-shaped UFOs and wanted to know if the RAF might have such a craft."
This statement, four years before the display over Arizona, contradicts the 2000 claim by the US DOD that the department had no information at all about the triangles. To this day, US officials continue to keep the lid on the Phoenix Lights and other well-documented American sightings of mysterious giant triangles.
"I wish that government entities would stop trying to shut down these investigations by putting out some flakey story," says Symington, a long-time pilot, drawing an analogy to the November sighting of a hovering disc by many aviation witnesses at O'Hare airport, which the FAA explained away as a "weather phenomenon."
* * *
Leslie Kean is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines around the world such as the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, Providence Journal, Sacramento Bee, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Newark Star Ledger, The Nation magazine, International Herald Tribune, Globe and Mail, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bangkok Post, the Kyoto Journal, and the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Her stories have been syndicated through Knight-Ridder Tribune, Scripps-Howard, New York Times Wire Service, Pacific News Service and the National Publishers Association. She is the co-founder of the Washington-based Coalition for Freedom of Information.
EXOPOLITICS RADIO Program March 10, 2007 "THE PHOENIX LIGHTS" with Dr. Lynne Kitei including coverage of former Arizona Republican Governor Fife Symington, III
"Governor Symington was born in New York City
in 1945 and was raised in Maryland. He graduated from Harvard University
in 1968. Governor Symington served with the United States Air Force and
was stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Arizona. He received the
Bronze Star for service in Vietnam and he attained the rank of captain.
He was partner with Lincoln Property Company from 1972 to 1976 and was
the founder of the Symington Company shich he was involved from 1976 to
1989. Mr. Symington was elected Governor in 1991 in a run-off election
held February 26, 1991. He took office on March 6, 1991. Governor Symington
served as chairman of the Western Governor's Conference from 1992 to 1993.
He married Ann Pritlaff and they have five children."
Resigned on September 7, 1997 after convicted
of fraud September 3, 1997.
"Republican J. Fife Symington became governor
in 1989, but he also encountered legal problems. In 1994 Symington reached
a settlement in a lawsuit with the government over charges that as a director
of a savings and loan association he had engaged in actions that violated
conflict-of-interest laws. Symington paid no money under the settlement
and maintained his innocence. Symington was indicted again by a federal
grand jury in June 1996 on multiple counts of fraud and extortion. In September
1997 a federal jury convicted Symington on seven felony counts for repeatedly
misstating his net worth to financial institutions to obtain loans. By
Arizona state law he was forced to resign his position as governor because
of the felony convictions. He was succeeded in office by Arizona's secretary
of state, Republican Jane Dee Hull. Symington was sentenced to two and
a half years in prison and five years' probation, but remained free pending
the outcome of an appeal. In 1999 Symington's convictions were overturned
by a federal appeals court because a juror had been improperly dismissed
during his trial."