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First Published Tuesday, 17 March 2009

‘Drop hacker case’ – Terry Waite

Human rights campaigner and former hostage Terry Waite has called on the US to drop charges against British computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

Glasgow-born Mr McKinnon, 42, from Wood Green, north London, faces up to 70 years in prison if found guilty in the US of breaking into military computers.

He has Asperger’s Syndrome and claims he was looking for details of UFOs.

Mr Waite, a hostage in Lebanon for four years, called the motives “harmless” and said “common sense” was needed.

He said the Pentagon ought to thank the self-confessed hacker for “exposing” the vulnerability of its computer security.

Mr Waite said Mr McKinnon’s illness, a form of autism, made him “irrationally obsessive” and added that it was a waste of time to pursue him.

“No nation under the sun ought to convict an individual whose behaviour is occasioned by illness,” he said.

“Gary is clearly a very clever chap.

“He has that unique ability to find his way through the internet jungle and enter the inner recesses of the Pentagon. Full marks for his ingenuity.

Terry Waite

Campaigner Terry Waite was held hostage for more than four years

“Was Gary a spy? Was he attempting to bring down the mighty military force of the USA? As far as I know he was not. He was simply looking for little green men.

“Anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with [Asperger’s Syndrome] will know that while the sufferer can be, and indeed often is, brilliant in certain logical processes they can become irrationally obsessive in other directions.”

However, Mr Waite – who was kidnapped in Lebanon in 1987 – said he supported the efforts of the authorities to “track down and stop illegal activity” on the web.

Mr McKinnon’s lawyers have appealed for him to be prosecuted in the UK on lesser charges, but the CPS said the best place for the case to be heard was the US.

In total, he hacked into 97 government computers belonging to organisations including the US Navy and Nasa during 2001 and 2002.

The US government says this caused damage costing $800,000 (£550,000) at a time of heightened security in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.

Mr McKinnon, who was arrested by British police in 2002, has already appealed unsuccessfully to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights to avoid extradition.

His battle now rests on a judicial review of the government’s decision to extradite him. His lawyers have claimed he is at risk of suicide if extradited.

Source:   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7946393.stm


US authorities pursuing Gary McKinnon to the end

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 10:12 by Mark Benson

Gary McKinnon, a Scottish born hacker who managed to gain access to the US government computer system, is today staring at the possibility that he will be extradited to the US over the next few weeks. However, he has gained a strong ally in Terry Waite the former Beirut hostage who believes the US authorities should be thanking Mr McKinnon for exposing weaknesses in their system rather than looking to put him behind bars for a large proportion of its remaining life.

For those who have followed the case, Gary McKinnon claims that he hacked into the US government computer system looking for information about UFOs although the US authorities claim that he caused significant damage and left a string of messages with regards the fight against terror. There is dismay in the McKinnon camp at the apparent lack of interest shown by the UK government in protecting a UK civilian.

The Home Office has neither stood in the way of the US extradition request nor asked for sight of evidence against Mr McKinnon. The situation has taken a turn for the worse as Gary McKinnon has recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and there are serious concerns about his physical and mental health, should he be placed behind bars in the US.

Source:   http://itvibe.com/news/4616/

Pink Floyd’s Gilmour backs McKinnon protest gig

UFO hacker gets support from Dark Side of the Moon

Dave Gilmour

By John Leyden

26th March 2009

Updated Legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has agreed to participate in a musical protest against attempts to extradite UFO enthusiast turned hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.

Janis Sharp, McKinnon’s mum, is organising a sing-in protest to coincide with President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to London for the G20 conference on the global economic crisis at the beginning of April. News of Gilmour’s involvement gives a massive publicity boost to these efforts.

“Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd is going to sing Graham Nash’s ‘Chicago’ for our son Gary McKinnons ‘Sing In’ for World Autism Day 2nd April yea,” Sharp excitedly announced via micro-blogging service Twitter on Wednesday.

Sharp added that the offer came by email and that Gilmour had agreed to “sing/record Chicago on our backing track for Gary’s ‘Sing In’”. The Pink Floyd legend will not be able to attend the demo itself, however.

“Dave Gilmour can’t come to the live “sing in” because he’s going on half term holiday on Friday with his wife and children,” Sharp told El Reg.

In a follow-up message, Sharp explained how Glmour came to offer his help.

“We’ve known Joe, Dave Gilmour’s brother-in-law, since Gary was a child and Joe knows Gary is a good person,” she writes. “Joe told David Gilmour and his sister Polly (Polly is David Gilmour’s wife) and Dave immediately offered and emailed me to say he is happy to sing on our ‘Sing In’ recording/cd for Gary.”

Gilmour’s email, Ma McKinnon tells us, also said: “I agree that your son Gary should not be being extradited to the USA for his naïve hacking. It is hard to understand that our so-called fair justice system could not be more effectively used to prevent this.”

Shine on you crazy diamond

Gilmour, legendary singer and guitarist with Pink Floyd needs little introduction, but what’s not-so well known is that the rocker has supported charities including the European Union Mental Health and Illness Association and Amnesty International over the years, something that’s probably made him more receptive to McKinnon’s plight.

Sharp has rewritten the lyrics (but not the tune) of Graham Nash’s Chicago so that it serves as a protest anthem against long-running attempts to haul her self-confessed UFO evidence hunter turned US military hacker son over to the US. The protests seeks to draw attention to the “one-sided” UK-US extradition treaty more generally.

Nash is famous as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Sharp choose the song partly because it harked back to the era of the Vietnam War protests as a mechanism to “rekindle the spirit of protest” of those times. The title of the song also references Obama’s adopted home city.

Crank up the volume

Music has been a feature in McKinnon’s long-running campaign against extradition. Celebrity supporters of McKinnon’s include former Police frontman Sting and wife Trudie Styler.

Ross Hemsworth, managing director of Glastonbury Radio and UK director of the International UFO Congress, suggested plans to organise a benefit gig on McKinnon’s behalf back in November but the idea never came to fruition. Kayleigh-admirers Marillion inititally supported the idea of a gig but later pulled out, partially out of fears of upsetting their US fanbase.

Hemsworth also floated the idea of bringing musicians together to make a recording of a song written by McKinnon, called Only a Fool, with the proceeds going to autism charities. So far that idea is yet to come together, either.

Samples of McKinnon’s other musical work can be found below, via YouTube.

McKinnon’s team obviously have the prog rock, folk and new age music scenes well covered. Sharp adds that “Cliff Williams the Bass Player of AC/DC is an old friend from Muswell Hill”, so metal may get covered too.

Newer genres – such as rap and techno – seem to be a bit more tricky.

The planned ‘sit-in’ musical protests will take place two months before judicial review on whether the Home Secretary was right to allow extradition proceedings against McKinnon to continue in spite of his recent diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome. The hearing represents McKinnon’s best hopes of avoiding extradition and trial following earlier failed appeal to the House of Lords and elsewhere last year, prior to the diagnosis of McKinnon with a mild form of autism. ®

Source:   http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/26/pink_floyd_mckinnon_protest_gig/

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