By Mark Ballard
15th February 2007
Gary McKinnon, the hobby hacker who is fighting against a US extradition
order, has pulled a legal wild card on his accusers in bid to face trial
In the court of appeal yesterday, McKinnon's lawyers made reference to
discussions that have been kept secret since 2003 when a plea bargain
was considered, said Karen Todner, McKinnon's lawyer.
"We went for a plea bargain," said Todner, "The Americans said, if he
pleaded guilty and didn't oppose the extradition he would get a much
shorter sentence of three or four years - as opposed to ten or twelve -
and he would come home within six to twelve months to serve the rest of
McKinnon was adamant that he wanted to face trial in the UK and refused
the bargain, yet agreed with the US that the deal should be kept secret
and never drawn out and used in any subsequent court hearing.
However, said Todner, US prosecutors exhumed the plea bargain and put it
before judges during his extradition hearing last year. So as far as the
defence was concerned, it was fair game to use the bargain in his
The plea bargain is useful for McKinnon's appeal, said Todner, because
of Cobb v. U.S.A., which in 2001 found that coercing someone into
extradition would infringe their human rights.
The US bargainers had done just that, Todner told The Register: "They
said, 'if you don't go voluntarily we'll go for the maximum sentence and
you won't be repatriated. That, we argued, is a breach of his human
McKinnon has been feeling the pressure of the trial and stayed away from
yesterday's appeal hearing due to illness. His blog  quoted a ZDNet
story that reported heart palpitations and a hospital visit.
"It's been going on for five years now," said Todner, "If he'd been
sentenced here he'd be out by now. It's had a traumatic effect on his
life, with the pressure of facing a phenomenal sentence in the US."
Lords Justice Goldring and Kay will pronounce judgement on McKinnon's
appeal against extradition next week.
Subscribe to the InfoSec News RSS Feed