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January 2011



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First Published Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Graeme Baldwin – BioMed Central

A lack of sunlight is associated with reduced cognitive function among depressed people. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health used weather data from NASA satellites to measure sunlight exposure across the United States and linked this information to the prevalence of cognitive impairment in depressed people.

Shia Kent, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, led a team of US researchers who used cross-sectional data from 14,474 people in the REGARDS study, a longitudinal study investigating stroke incidence and risk factors, to study associations between depression, cognitive function and sunlight. He said, “We found that among participants with depression, low exposure to sunlight was associated with a significantly higher predicted probability of cognitive impairment. This relationship remained significant after adjustment for season. This new finding that weather may not only affect mood, but also cognition, has significant implications for the treatment of depression, particularly seasonal affective disorder.”

Kent and his colleagues speculate that the physiological mechanisms that give rise to seasonal depression may also be involved in sunlight’s effect on cognitive function in the context of depressive symptoms. Cognitive function was assessed by measurement of short-term recall and temporal orientation. As well as regulating the hormones serotonin and melatonin, light has been shown to also affect brain blood flow, which has in turn been linked with cognitive functions. The researchers write, “Discovering the environment’s impact on cognitive functioning within the context of seasonal disorders may lead not only to better understanding of the disorders, but also to the development of targeted interventions to enhance everyday functioning and quality of life.”

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Kent ST, McClure LA, Crosson WL, et al. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study Environ Health 2009 Jul;8:34 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-34   [Abstract | Full text (PDF)]

First Published Wednesday, 29 July 2009

By Amy Sutton, Contributing Writer, HBNS

Taking time for leisure activities apart from the demands of work and other responsibilities helps people function better physically and mentally. In fact, the more time spent doing different types of enjoyable activities, the better a person’s health tends to be, according to a new study.

People who are engaged in multiple enjoyable activities are better off physically and psychologically,” said study co-author Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D. She is a professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study appears online in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine.

For the study, 1,400 adults reported how often they participated in a variety of leisure activities, including spending time unwinding, visiting friends or family, going on vacation, going to clubs or religious activities or playing sports.

Adults with higher scores – indicating the most time spent in different leisure activities – had lower blood pressure, waist circumference, body mass index and cortisol measurements, all markers of good health.

When one is under stress, the usual thing is to cut back on enjoyable activities because you’re feeling uncomfortable and you need more time to deal with the stress. But these data suggest that is the wrong thing to do and that continuing enjoyable activities you do can be helpful,” Matthews said.

People who spent more time doing diverse leisure activities also reported stronger and more diverse social networks, more feelings of satisfaction and engagement in their lives and lower levels of depression. Those who logged the most leisure time also slept better and exercised more consistently, the authors say.

Other studies have examined the link between specific activities, such as exercise, and improved physical and psychological health, but this is the first to show that the accumulation of multiple sources of enjoyable activity benefits health, Matthews said.

The study outcomes add to what we know about the connection between body and mind, said Kathy Richards, PhD, a registered nurse and professor of health promotion at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia.

Although the amount of leisure time each person needs is highly individual, we all need to monitor our own bodies and stress levels and participate in leisure activities to have happy, healthy and productive lives,” Richards said.

Pressman SD, Matthews KA, Cohen S, et al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. Psychosom Med 2009 Jul; doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978 [Abstract]

First Published Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Not A Solitary Thing Do I Fear ...

by Caroline Williams

The smell of the sweat you produce when terrified is not only registered by the brains of others, but changes their behaviour too, according to new research. It adds to a growing body of evidence that humans may communicate using scent in a similar way to how other animals use pheromones.

Lilianne Mujica-Parodi, a cognitive neuroscientist at Stony Brook University in New York and colleagues collected sweat from the armpits of first-time tandem skydivers as they hurtled towards the earth.


© Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

First Published Thursday, 30 July 2009

If you have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and are currently in employment, you may benefit from some of our specialist training courses.

Prospects recognises that employees with an ASD may not receive training that meets their individual needs. We have designed a number of one-day courses that cover common areas of difficulty faced by people with an ASD at work. These courses, where you’ll be part of a small group, give you the chance to learn more about specific areas, share your experiences of work, and learn from other people with an ASD.

On the courses, you will begin to develop some strategies that you can use in your day-to-day working life.

Our courses are:

  • *communication skills at work: next courses take place on 6 August 2009 and 5 November 2009
  • *dealing with anxiety in the workplace: next courses on 13 August 2009 and 12 November 2009
  • *personal management skills for the workplace: next courses on 20 August 2009 and 19 November 2009.

For more information about our one-day courses for employees with an ASD, download our brochures at the bottom of this page. You can also contact Daniel Aherne at Prospects:

Daniel Aherne
Tel: 020 7704 7450
Email: daniel.aherne@nas.org.uk

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First Published Thursday, 30 July 2009

Max Mayer’s new film Adam, the story of an astronomy-obsessed Asperger’s sufferer played by Hugh Dancy, spotlights a syndrome that some say affected geniuses from Mozart to Einstein.

The history of Asperger’s syndrome in the American cinema is probably not substantial enough to warrant its own course in a university film department. The oeuvre includes Mozart and the Whale, a little-known Josh Hartnett vehicle that went straight to video in 2005, and now Adam, a romantic dramedy, which opens today. And that seems to be it.

After all, this high-functioning variation of autism—named for the late Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who first investigated the disorder in the 1940s and may have been a sufferer himself—wasn’t widely accepted as a clinical diagnosis until the early 1990s.

“Actually, as I learned about it, I realized I might have known some people with it,” Adam’s writer-director Max Mayer told me Tuesday night at a celebrity-strewn party for the movie, hosted by Andrew Saffir’s Cinema Society and Brooks Brothers at the rooftop bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel. “I worked at a camp for emotionally disturbed kids when I was 20 or 21—the Ramapo Anchorage Camp in Rhinebeck, New York. The diagnosis of Asperger’s didn’t exist back then, but now I realize I had some experience with kids who had Asperger’s.”

“I am left with the melancholy sensation that my life has been spent in a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity,” one Asperger’s sufferer observed.

Damages star Rose Byrne—whose character in Adam, a “neuro-typical” aspiring children’s book writer, falls for her astronomy-obsessed, Asperger’s-suffering downstairs neighbor, played by Hugh Dancy—said she, too, has been up close and personal with the disorder. “I have a family friend who had Asperger’s, so I had known about it already,” the Australian beauty told me. “If you ask around, a lot of people are touched by it—it’s really common. And there are cases of people who are incredibly brilliant who have it.”

Fox Seachlight President Stephen Gilula—who is budgeting a strong promotional campaign for Adam, which he snapped up for a reported $1.5 million at this year’s Sundance Film Festival—thinks he just might know some Asperger’s sufferers, too. “When you reflect back on people’s behavior, sometimes I wonder now,” he said.

The syndrome—a pattern of symptoms that Dr. Asperger identified among his young patients—can include impaired social interaction; extreme literal-mindedness marked by an inability to interpret the nuances of meaning, body language, and emotion; obsessive, pedantic preoccupation with a single subject; a fondness for repetitive ritual; physical clumsiness; and, often, very high intelligence. As a line of dialogue in the movie suggests, Mozart and Einstein are among the geniuses sometimes claimed by the Asperger’s community. “I’m not Forrest Gump, you know,” Dancy’s title character wryly complains when Byrne’s character, Beth, presents him with a box of chocolates.

My friend and former Washington Post colleague Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic, has written movingly—and fascinatingly—about his own struggle with the disorder. “I am left with the melancholy sensation that my life has been spent in a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity,” Page observed. “From early childhood, my memory was so acute and my wit so bleak that I was described as a genius—by my parents, by our neighbors, and even, on occasion, by the same teachers who gave me failing marks. I wrapped myself in this mantle, of course, as a poetic justification for behavior that might otherwise have been judged unhinged, and I did my best to believe in it.”

Read Article in Full:

First Published Friday, 31 July 2009

By Michael Seamark and James Slack
Last updated at 10:59 AM on 31st July 2009

British computer expert Gary McKinnon today lost his latest High Court bid to avoid extradition to America where he faces trial for hacking into U.S. military networks.

His lawyers argued that extraditing the 43-year-old, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, would lead to ‘disastrous consequences’ for his health, including possible psychosis and suicide.

But today Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting in London, dismissed his claim for judicial review.

Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, asked the court to overturn decisions of successive Home Secretaries allowing his extradition to go ahead.

He also challenged a refusal by Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to put him on trial in the UK on charges of computer misuse.  UK trial would allow him to avoid extradition.

Lord Justice Burnton said: ‘For the reasons set out in the judgment the claims against the secretary of state and DPP are dismissed.’

In a 41-page ruling, the judges said extradition was ‘a lawful and proportionate response to his offending’.

Whether or not Mr McKinnon can appeal further will be decided at a later date.

Lord Justice Burnton said it was a matter that should be dealt with ‘as expeditiously as possible’, probably in September.

His mother, Janis Sharp, said outside court: ‘We are heartbroken. If the law says it’s fair to destroy someone’s life in this way then it’s a bad law.’

She added: ‘Our hope still lies with the Government. What more evidence do Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson need to understand what extraditing Gary would do to him, let alone us?

‘Gary would not survive and I would never see my son again. All to oblige the Americans?

‘If Gary’s was such a dreadful crime, he should have been prosecuted and sentenced here years ago.

‘Instead he’s been left tortured by fear for seven years. Compassion can and must now prevail.’

She made an impassioned appeal to Barack Obama to halt attempts to extradite her son.

His lawyers today sent a letter to the U.S. president signed by 40 British MPs asking him to step in and ‘bring this shameful episode to an end’.

She said: ‘Stand by us and make this world a better place, a more compassionate place.

‘Obama wouldn’t have this. He doesn’t want the first guy extradited for computer misuse to be a guy with Asperger’s, a UFO guy. He wouldn’t want this.

‘I’m just praying, please hear us, Obama, because I know you would do the right thing.

‘I know you would have the strength to stand up and not have this.’

Lawyers for Mr McKinnon, who was told the decision yesterday, described him as an ‘UFO eccentric’ who had been searching for evidence of extra-terrestrial life, and described the idea that he was a danger to U.S. national security as ‘a complete fantasy’.

Karen Todner, Mr McKinnon’s solicitor, said: ‘This ruling is hugely disappointing. But we shall not stop here.

‘Alan Johnson still has the power to act. We have 28 days to review the judgment and will continue to explore every legal avenue until we achieve a just and proper result.

‘The Government promised “ample protection” of individuals’ rights, but we have yet to see this in practice.

‘Extradition without effective safeguards is a denial of justice for every UK citizen.’

If sent to the U.S., Mr McKinnon is likely to receive a substantial prison sentence of up to 12 years, possibly served in a Supermax prison used for high risk inmates, and is unlikely to be repatriated to serve his sentence.

The U.S. authorities said Mr McKinnon was responsible for the ‘biggest military hack of all time’ that had been highly damaging and involved 97 government computers belonging to organisations including the U.S. Navy and Nasa.

A large campaign involving family, politicians, civil rights groups, sympathetic media and celebrities has supported the hacker’s long battle against extradition.

His mother, Janis Sharp, has expressed fears that he could face a 60-year sentence in a tough U.S. jail and she would never see him again.

She said last night: ‘My biggest fear is that if it goes against Gary there would be a plane waiting for him tomorrow night.

‘If we lose, our solicitor will ask for the statutory 28 days to appeal but if they refuse… that’s what terrifies me and Gary.

‘But whatever the decision – the fight goes on.

‘If it goes against us I may cry, but I will never give up, not in a million years. He has to stay here.’

She pleaded again for Alan Johnson to heed the advice of leading barristers that the Home Secretary has the power to intervene and prevent the extradition of Gary, who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Mr McKinnon was not in court today to hear the judgment.

But the National Autistic Society, which has supported him, said it was ‘extremely disappointed at the decision’.

Amanda Batten, the charity’s head of policy and campaigns, said outside the High Court: ‘We are angry that Gary is still in this position.

‘This legal case has been going on for seven years. We are involved in supporting his case because we think that in the light of his Asperger’s Syndrome that extradition should not go ahead.

‘We will continue campaigning and do all we can to support Gary to stay in the UK.’

Mr Johnson’s own terror adviser, Lord Carlile, and eminent human rights lawyers have warned against sending him across the Atlantic under a controversial U.S./UK treaty ostensibly introduced to combat terrorism.

The Home Secretary snubbed a plea by Gary’s mother for a face-to-face meeting but Mrs Sharp said: ‘Mr Johnson can, and must intervene. It’s an absolute.

‘He’s ignoring the best legal advice in the land, even his own adviser on terror is saying “don’t send Gary.” It just seems ridiculous.’

Support for Gary has poured in after the Daily Mail launched its ‘Affront to British Justice’ campaign – with tens of thousands of readers petitioning the Home Secretary to use his discretion and intervene – and ministers will be braced for a public backlash if he loses the High Court appeals.

A raft of leading politicians, including Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, along with many high-profile celebrities are backing the fight to stop his extradition on ‘cyber-terrorism’ charges.

Gordon Brown offered a glimmer of hope for Gary last week when he said he was ‘sympathetic’ to the 43-year-old computer hacker’s plight.

Actress and environmental campaigner Trudie Styler, wife of pop star Sting, who was present in court, said afterwards: ‘My heart goes out to Gary, Janis and all those who have fought so hard.

‘Reason and common sense dictate that Gary’s extradition would be abhorrent.

‘We cannot let this be the end of the road. It is quite clear that Gary is a deeply vulnerable man, ill-equipped to cope with the trauma of extradition.

‘I am determined to continue to press government to intervene in this blatant travesty of justice.’

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘This is very disappointing news. People are right to be extremely concerned about our extradition arrangements.

To Read Article in Full:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203365/Decision-extradition-case-Aspergers-Syndrome-hacker-Gary-McKinnon.html?ITO=1490

Hacker McKinnon’s Mum’s Fury At The Government(Video)

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his appeal against extradition to the US after admitting accessing Nasa computers. Outside court his mother Janice said the decision was an outrage.


Gary McKinnon ruling: ‘UK Extradition laws(Video)

Shami Chakrabarti(Director, Liberty) hopes a plea from Gary McKinnon’s mother to Barack Obama is successful, but says UK extradition laws must be changed. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20090731/video/vwl-gary-mckinnon-ruling-uk-extradition-15af341.html

I might never see him again: Mother of Gary McKinnon pleads for mercy from Obama after hacker loses extradition fight

Last updated at 3:52 PM on 31st July 2009

The mother of computer hacker Gary McKinnon made an impassioned appeal to US president Barack Obama today after her son failed in his latest High Court bid to avoid extradition to America.

The 43-year-old, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), is wanted for trial on charges of hacking into US military networks.

His mother, Janis Sharp, has expressed fears that he could face a 60-year sentence in a tough US jail and would be at real risk of suicide because of his medical condition. She also fears she would never see him again.

But today Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting in London, dismissed his claim for judicial review.

The Daily Mail has led a high-profile campaign to prevent Mr McKinnon’s extradition which has received widespread backing from politicians, celebrities and civil liberties campaigners.

Gary McKinnon has his appeal against extradition rejected
Janis Sharp, with Sting’s wife Trudie Styler (left), outside the High Court. She has vowed to take her son’s case to the European Court

Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, North London, asked the court to overturn decisions of successive Home Secretaries allowing his extradition to go ahead.

He also challenged a refusal by Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to put him on trial in the UK on charges of computer misuse.  UK trial would allow him to avoid extradition.

Lord Justice Burnton said: ‘For the reasons set out in the judgment the claims against the secretary of state and DPP are dismissed.’

NAS angry and disappointed at Gary McKinnon outcome

Journalists: download our latest media release about Gary McKinnon’s case in ‘Related resources’ at the bottom of this page.

Today, the National Autistic Society expressed great disappointment at the High Court decision that Gary McKinnon, a man with Asperger syndrome accused of hacking into US Government computer systems, should be extradited to the US. The ruling follows two judicial reviews where it was argued that his Asperger syndrome had not been given due consideration by those deciding on his case.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS said:

“We are so disappointed for Gary and his family and so angry he is still in this position. The threat of extradition has been hanging over him for seven long years and sadly the nightmare continues. The NAS has campaigned hard for his extradition to be reconsidered in the light of his diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. We will continue to do whatever we can to keep him here in the UK and will support him in his appeal to the Supreme Court.

“People with Asperger syndrome are often far more vulnerable than initial appearances would suggest, frequently isolated, often bullied and sadly many experience severe mental health problems if they do not get the right support. We are extremely disappointed that the High Court has decided to continue with Gary’s extradition despite these concerns.”

The ruling today comes after two Judicial Review hearings examined whether the Home Secretary had been right in deciding to extradite Gary following his diagnosis with Asperger syndrome, and whether the Director for Public Prosecutions should have allowed him to stand trial in the UK.  The NAS supplied evidence about Asperger syndrome during the judicial review process, urging that his condition be taken into consideration.

The National Autistic Society has been campaigning to stop Gary’s extradition since his diagnosis and has written to both the Home Secretary and the Attorney General. Thousands of NAS supporters have also voiced their support, writing to their MPs and signing a petition which was delivered to Downing Street by Garys mother earlier this month.

Gary may now have the opportunity to appeal to the House of Lords. The NAS will continue to campaign for his extradition to be stopped.

Show you support for Gary.
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Background to Gary McKinnon’s case

Gary McKinnon was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in August 2008 and stands accused of allegedly hacking into US Defense computer systems. As a result of Gary’s late diagnosis, his Asperger syndrome was not taken into account in any legal proceedings prior to August 2008.

We have continued to express our concern that Gary’s diagnosis be taken into consideration and took action by writing to both the Home Secretary when his diagnosis first came to light last year, and the Attorney General.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, a condition that affects the way a person communicates with and relates to others and the world around them. It is not uncommon for people with Asperger syndrome to develop single-minded, obsessional interests, and to be unaware of the effect their actions have on others.

The decision on Friday 31 July follows two judicial reviews of Gary’s case. The first, heard on 9th June 2009, looked at the Home Secretary’s decision to extradite Gary following his diagnosis. We submitted evidence during this judicial review explaining the nature of Asperger syndrome and the fact that diagnosis in adults is often late, as in Mr. McKinnon’s case. This included information explaining that people with Asperger syndrome may be particularly vulnerable because of their difficulties with social awareness and communication, and may be susceptible to additional mental health problems as a result of their disability.

Earlier this year, over 4,000 supporters took part in our campaigner action to email the Attorney General asking that Gary be allowed to stand trial in the UK. His appeal to the Crown Prosecution Service was turned down in February 2009 and this decision was the subject of a second judicial review, heard on 14th July 2009.

You can read more about Asperger syndrome, and access information for criminal justice professionals on our website:

More about Gary McKinnon’s case:

NAS delivers Gary McKinnon petition to 10 Downing Street
 Photo: Janis Sharp and Trudie Styler On 3 July, we delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister to prevent the extradition of Gary McKinnon. Signed by 4,388 NAS supporters, it was delivered by Gary’s mum, Janis Sharp, and Trudie Styler, one of several celebrities supporting Gary’s case.

Related resources

Relevant documents for downloading


Now show some guts, Mr Johnson: Judges say Home Secretary CAN order Gary McKinnon to be tried here

By Michael Seamark and James Slack
Last updated at 12:43 AM on 01st August 2009

Alan Johnson is under huge pressure to ‘pluck up the courage’ to save Gary McKinnon after judges warned he might kill himself if extradited.

They ruled they could not stop the Government from sending him to the U.S., where the vulnerable Asperger’s sufferer faces up to 60 years behind bars.

But the two High Court judges declared in a pointed statement that, if extradited, ‘his mental health will suffer and there are risks of worse, including suicide’.

Gary McKinnon and his mother Janis Sharp
‘This sorry saga’: Gary McKinnon and his mother Janis Sharp

Crucially, the judges also said the 43-year-old computer hacker could be prosecuted in London – a process which would automatically halt extradition.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: ‘The succession of government ministers who have let this sorry saga drag on for seven long years should bow their heads in shame.

‘It is time for Alan Johnson to pluck up the courage and ensure that Gary McKinnon is tried in a British court. Nothing else will do.’

Tory leader David Cameron said: ‘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. If he has questions to answer, there is a clear argument to be made that he should answer them in a British court.’

Read Article in Full:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203568/Now-guts-Mr-Johnson-Judges-say-Home-Secretary-CAN-order-Gary-McKinnon-tried-here.html?ITO=1490

Cameron calls for rethink after hacker fails to halt extradition

Judges back removal of Briton who broke into US military networks

David Cameron yesterday joined the growing call for a review of extradition laws after computer hacker Gary McKinnon, originally from Glasgow, failed in his bid to avoid removal to the US.

The 43-year-old, who now lives in Wood Green, London, suffers from Asperger’s syndrome (AS), and is wanted for trial on charges of hacking into US military networks.

Campaigners seeking to block his extradition say his only crime is being a “UFO eccentric” who searched for evidence of extraterrestrials.

They claim he acted through “naivety” as a result of AS – a form of autism which leads to obsessive behaviour – and should not be considered a criminal.

We’ll take Gary’s fight to UK Supreme Court

Published Date: 01 August 2009

THE Scottish computer hacker who has lost his latest legal challenge to avoid extradition to the US is likely to make one final appeal to the newly formed UK Supreme Court.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie yesterday ruled Gary McKinnon’s extradition was a “lawful and proportionate response” to his offences as part of a judicial review….
….Numerous high-profile supporters of Mr McKinnon’s case, including Terry Waite, the human rights campaigner and former hostage, expressed anger at the decision.

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

Trudie Styler, the wife of rock star Sting, described the court’s decision as the “death of common sense”.

Mr McKinnon’s solicitor, Karen Todner, said she would lodge an appeal against the High Court’s ruling within 28 days and, if possible, take it to the Supreme Court and even to Europe. She added that they would “explore every legal avenue until we achieve a just and proper result”.

Gary McKinnon: Pentagon hacker’s worst nightmare comes true

The autistic UFO conspiracy theorist has been extradited, charged with the biggest US military hack of all time. ‘I sit up all night thinking about jail,’ he says

Jon Ronson

The Guardian, Saturday 1 August 2009

For the past seven years, in bedsits in Crouch End and Bounds Green, north London, the Pentagon hacker and UFO buff Gary McKinnon has – according to his family and friends – been suffering one long anxiety attack. He’s prone to regular fits of fainting and thoughts of suicide. He’s written that he can’t look himself in his eyes when he’s shaving in case the sight of himself sets the spiral off. He jumps out of his skin if someone touches him by surprise. I’ve met him sporadically during these years and can vouch that he’s a chainsmoking, terrified shell.

“I’m walking down the road and I find I can’t control my own legs,” he has told me. “And I’m sitting up all night thinking about jail. About male rape. An American jail. I’m only a little nerd … My life is like walking through a world you know is probably going to end.”

And yesterday, at 10am, it did. The high court ruled that extradition to America was “a lawful and proportionate response to Gary McKinnon’s offending”. It is unlikely that anything will stop it now. How did he become, in the eyes of US prosecutors, the man who committed “the biggest US military hack of all time”? And does he deserve his fate?

Read Article in Full:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/01/gary-mckinnon-extradition-nightmare

Friday, 31 July 2009

In quotes: Hacker judgement

The failure of computer hacker Gary McKinnon’s latest High Court bid against extradition to the US has provoked widespread reaction.


It would be illegal for me to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon, which the court ruling has made clear.

Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes and the US has a lawful right to seek his extradition, as we do when we wish to prosecute people who break our laws.

My predecessor has already sought and received clear assurances from the US that Mr McKinnon’s health and welfare needs would be met, should he be extradited.


I am deeply saddened and disappointed with this decision. 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.

If he has questions to answer, there is a clear argument to be made that he should answer them in a British court.

This case raises serious questions about the workings of the Extradition Act, which should be reviewed.

Read Article in Full:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8178321.stm

Cabinet split over McKinnon extradition

Welsh secretary Peter Hain backs McKinnon’s calls to be tried in the UK

Phil Muncaster

In a new twist to the long-running campaign for Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon to be tried in the UK, Welsh secretary Peter Hain today dramatically broke ranks with the government and backed the calls.

Hain is quoted in a Daily Mail report as saying that it would be better for McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, to be tried in “a British context”, given that he committed the offences while on British soil.

“I have a lot of sympathy with Gary McKinnon and his mum, who is a very brave woman fighting for his rights,” Hain is reported as saying. “He has Asperger’s syndrome which does tend to produce the kind of behaviour that is very compulsive.”

Read Article in Full:  http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news/2247169/cabinet-splits-mckinnon

Political support builds for Nasa hacker

Tom Espiner ZDNet.co.uk

Published: 03 Aug 2009 17:41 BST

Amid a surge in political support for Gary McKinnon, the deputy prime minister has said the government will press for a British prison stay for the self-confessed hacker.

Harriet Harman told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the UK would seek for McKinnon to be repatriated if he is found guilty of hacking military networks by a US court.

“If he is found guilty, then obviously straight away we will seek for him to serve any prison sentence — if he is sentenced to prison — back in this country,” said Harman.

Read Article in Full:  http://news.zdnet.co.uk/security/0,1000000189,39703964,00.htm

Minister lends support to hacker

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has suggested that British computer hacker Gary McKinnon should face trial in the UK rather than be extradited to the US.

He told the Daily Mail the offence was committed “on British soil” and should be “assessed in a British context”.

Mr McKinnon’s mother Janis Sharp said Mr Hain’s words were “refreshing”, but the Lib Dems called on the government to do more to prevent the extradition.

Read Article in Full:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8181830.stm

How Gary McKinnon became a cause celebre

Clockwise from top left: Jilly Cooper, Keith Duffy, Julie Christie, David Blunkett, Sting, Barry Norman, Emma Noble and Terry Waite
By Caroline McClatchey
BBC News

British computer hacker Gary McKinnon’s fight against extradition to the US has drawn support from a large and diverse range of influential people. How did his case become such a cause celebre?

It has to be one of the most unlikely partnerships in the history of popular music – one is a toned and tanned boy band singer, the other a brooding and balding lead guitarist from one of the rock giants of the 1970s.

But it’s not music that has brought Boyzone’s Keith Duffy and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour together – it’s the case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

Mr McKinnon has become Britain’s best-known conspiracy theorist, or, as London Mayor Boris Johnson put it – he’s a “classic British nut job” who believes in “little green men”.

Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon has Asperger’s Syndrome

The American authorities see it differently. The 43-year-old is a wanted man in the US, where he has been accused of “the biggest military computer hack of all time”. For the past five years he has been fighting an extradition request from the American authorities which want to try him on US soil.

If convicted there he faces up to 60 years in prison.

Along the way he has amassed a legion of supporters, as diverse in their make up as they are distinguished in their own fields of achievement. They include novelist Nick Hornby, film critic Barry Norman, Emma Noble, the ex-glamour model and former daughter-in-law of John Major, Sting, his film producer wife Trudie Styler and actress Julie Christie.

Politicians of all hues have also leapt on Mr McKinnon’s case. And pop stars Chrissie Hynde and Sir Bob Geldof have teamed up with Gilmour to record a song of support.

In the past six weeks his cause has been further bolstered by a high-profile campaign in the Daily Mail newspaper.

But how did Mr McKinnon’s fight become such a rallying cause for this disparate group of supporters?

Mr McKinnon does not deny he hacked into Pentagon systems, but claims he was searching for evidence of a UFO cover-up. His story started back in 2002 and the media have, periodically, followed the twists and turns of his legal battles (see graph, below).

Mention in press

There was also a spike in coverage when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome – a form of autism – last year, but the campaign to stop his extradition has gathered pace, passion and people in the last six months.

While a PR agency has taken on some of the work, Mr McKinnon’s campaign has won support for a variety of reasons.

Read Full Article:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8181100.stm

Fight goes on for hacker despite extradition ruling

Charlotte Newton
GARY McKinnon’s parents are preparing to take their legal fight to the House of Lords to stop their son being extradited to the US, the Ham&High has learned.

Wilson Sharp and his wife Janis have until September 14 to prepare a case on why Mr McKinnon – who has Asperger’s syndrome – should be allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, the new name for the judicial functions of the House of Lords.

They plan to use the European Convention on Human Rights to argue for Mr McKinnon’s right to humane treatment and say family life would be breached if he were extradited and tried in the US.

Mr Sharp spoke out after his stepson lost his latest bid at the High Court on Friday to avoid extradition on charges of hacking into US security and defence computer networks. “Gary is in a very bad state mentally,” Mr Sharp said. “He’s been okay up until now but Friday’s decision was a step too far. He’s extremely anxious, he’s not talking.”

Read Article in Full:  http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/content/camden/hamhigh/news/story.aspx?brand=NorthLondon24&category=Newshamhigh&tBrand=northlondon24&tCategory=newshamhigh&itemid=WeED06%20Aug%202009%2010%3A40%3A58%3A820

Autism Campaigners Appeal To President Obama On Gary McKinnon

Article Date: 06 Aug 2009 – 14:00 PDT

Autism campaigners Ivan Corea of the UK Autism Foundation and Kevin Healey Chairman of the Staffordshire Adults Autistic Society (who has Asperger’s Syndrome) have issued a joint appeal on Gary McKinnon to President Barack Obama at the White House.

They have also launched a new online petition in support of Gary McKinnon who hacked into 97 America military computers at the Pentagon and Nasa between 2001 and 2002.

Read Article in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160039.php

URGENT!: Tell Barbara Lee to Save Gary McKinnon

by Autism Liberation Front
Thursday Aug 6th, 2009 11:01 AM

Gary McKinnon has an autism spectrum disorder; he needs to be saved from the clutches of American injustice. Barack Hussein Obama continues the extradition of Gary McKinnon, despite testimony of Autism Specialists, a former NASA prosecutor, and members of the current British government. Obama’s first extradition in his version of the war on terror is someone with a developmental disability.



Oakland District Office
1301 Clay Street Suite 1000-N
Oakland, CA 94612

Lee’s Phone: (510) 763-0370 Fax: (510) 763-6538



Please, Gary needs your help. Please help Gary’s mother and the Autistic community in saving Gary McKinnon.

Obama’s first extradition in his version of the war on terror is someone with autism. I repeat: OBAMA’S FIRST EXTRADITION IS SOMEONE WITH AUTISM!

Gary McKinnon has an autism spectrum disorder; he needs to be saved from the clutches of American injustice. He needs to stay home in the UK with his mom and his friends. Gary faces 70 years in an American super-max prison. His mental health with deteriorate, and we fear he will die in jail far sooner than later.

Barack Hussein Obama continues the extradition of Gary McKinnon, despite testimony of Autism Specialists, a former NASA prosecutor, and members of the current British government. Gary has the support of Lord Alex Carlile and the Liberal Democrats, as well as the Green Party of England and Wales. He has the support of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.

In 2001, Gary McKinnon entered unprotected (no passwords, no cyber-security) servers from NASA and the Pentagon. He was looking for photos of UFOs. The US Government ludicrously claims he was online not to look for pictures, but in attempt to destroy key parts of America’s cyber-infrastructure.

Simon Baron-Cohen (cousin of Sacha Baron-Cohen), head of Autism Research at Cambridge University, has testified that Gary’s Asperger’s Syndrome played a key role in his behaviour and that he had no true criminal intent. He has examined and interviewed Gary, and basically serves as his therapist. Gary was looking to satisfy his own curiosities and had no sinister motive.

Former NASA prosecutor, as well as cyber-security expert, Joseph Richard Gutheinz Jr has spoken on behalf of Gary. Gutheinz argues the truth, that Autism is not respected in American, that the US over prosecutes people with development disabilities, and that Gary must stay in the UK.

Gary McKinnon’s cause has been taken up by bob Geldof and David Fimour who put together a digital single to raise money and awareness for his legal defense.



I am retired NASA Office of Inspector General Senior Special Agent. I have seen the harm that illegal hacking has caused. I was even trained by the United States Government to hack into computers to understand the psyche and techniques used by hackers.

After retiring from NASA, I started practising criminal law and found that the American judicial system turns a blind eye towards the needs of the mentally ill. America is a great country and I am a proud American, but it is a country tied to many archaic legal principles.

Until just recently America executed mentally retarded offenders and still jails schizophrenics and other seriously mentally impaired defendants with little compassion. It is a country which fights drug addiction with long prison terms for the addicted. Individuals become judges on a record of zero tolerance where compassion has little value or is viewed as a negative.

If I were the prosecutor on Gary McKinnon’s case, I would say keep him in England: you can have him fly him over here, he’ll plea out, and we’ll put him probation in England for a number of years with conditions. That is the compassionate thing to do, and that is what I haven’t seen the American government offer. And that is where I think they are wrong.

I tell my students that laws exist to be followed and when the law is ignored, anarchy follows. I am known as a conservative on law and order issues, but I also believe in justice. I worry that Gary McKinnon might not find any justice in America.

For two years I fought to keep a young boy out of juvenile prison or a psychiatric ward, a boy who like Gary McKinnon has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He went through hell in the legal system. There was no compassion, no understanding. They just wanted to lock the kid away. It was a heart-breaking case.

Predicated on that experience I was grateful when Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed me to the Texas Criminal Justice Advisory Committee on Medical and Mental Impairments, but once there I saw the same lack of concern by law enforcement and the judiciary towards the mentally ill that I saw as a defense attorney.

Gary McKinnon’s is a case that demands that we use a little bit of compassion. What are you going to accomplish by extraditing him back to the United States and punishing him and putting him in prison? Are you sending a message out that if you’ve got a mental illness you better watch it? I do believe in what his mother says – separating him from her and his environment is going to be detrimental to his well being.

I hope a deal can be reached with American prosecutors that will offer Gary treatment rather than jail or prison, and permit him to remain in England around surroundings and people that will nurture him, and to this end I ask America to halt its efforts to extradite Gary and in the alternative work out a compromise that will protect its national security and enhance Gary’s well being.

If the guy didn’t have autism, I’d say he’s made his bed and he’s got so sleep in it. My opinion would be different if Gary was a physical threat to others or a continuing threat to American national security, but neither appears to be the case.

If America is unwilling to strike a compassionate plea bargain with Gary’s defense attorneys I believe England must take steps to protect its citizen. In the case of Gary McKinnon, I have come to the conclusion that England should not extradite this man to America to face the prospect of injustice masked as justice.

Joseph Richard Gutheinz, Jr., J.D.
Attorney at Law
Retired NASA OIG Senior Special Agent

Computer hacker case attracting worldwide support

5:02pm Friday 7th August 2009

THE FATE of computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who looks set to face trial in the US, has led to a surge in support and sympathy from around the globe.

“Gary McKinnon has admitted that he has done wrong by hacking into US computers and all we are asking is for Gary to be tried in the UK.

“President Obama, with the stroke of his pen, can change things for Gary McKinnon.”

Mr McKinnon has won backing from politicians, such as Ilford North MP Lee Scott, David Cameron, Peter Hain and Boris Johnson. The online petition, which asks for Gary to be tried in the UK, has the full support of Mrs Janice Sharp, the mother of Gary McKinnon, who has been protesting on her son’s behalf.

Organisers are hoping that thousands will sign as Mr McKinnon’s lawyers are given 28 days to appeal against the High Court decision to allow the extradition to go ahead.


Sign the petition at http://signup4garymckinnon.yolasite.com/

Hacker with Asperger’s syndrome gets reduced sentence

Ian Grant

11 Aug 2009

Asperger’s syndrome saved a Los Angeles hacker from a longer prison sentence, it was reported today, bringing scant hope to self-confessed British hacker Gary McKinnon (pictured), who faces extradition to the US on hacking charges.

Viachelav Berkovich, an illegal Russian immigrant and Asperger’s sufferer, received a 55-month sentence for his part in a man-in-the-middle attack on a shipment trucking website, according to a report in Wired.

This was five months less than the minimum recommended by the probation office and prosecutors, and 23 months less than the federal minimum. His co-defendant received 70 months for masterminding the scheme.

“The court tried to make a fair sentence [It] gave us some of what we asked for and did accept that Mr Berkovich suffered from Asperger’s, but at the same time felt that this was serious and that a substantial prison sentence was called for to deter others,” Kiana Sloan-Hillier, Berkovich’s defence attorney, told Wired.

Read Article In Full:   http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/08/11/237281/hacker-with-aspergers-syndrome-gets-reduced-sentence.htm

Hacking Autism – Gary McKinnon

Posted on August 21st, 2009

Gary McKinnon, could face extradition from Britain to the United States where he would stand trial for hacking into US government computers and could face a sentence of sixty years (Charged with 7 counts, proposed sentence Ten Years Per Count)

Gary has recently been diagnosed as suffering from Lifetime Aspergers Syndrome, which is why his family, friends and supporters around the world are arguing that Gary should be allowed to stay in the U.K and face the courts in the country where the offence, if offence there was, was committed.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a world renowned expert on Aspergers and Autism feels strongly that Gary should absolutely not be extradited to the U.S.

Read in Full:  http://www.bloggernews.net/121967

First Published Monday, 1 June 2009

By Geoffrey Wansell

The fate of self-confessed ‘bumbling computer nerd’ and UFO spotter Gary McKinnon  -  who faces extradition to the U.S. and a possible 70-year prison sentence after hacking into 97 military and Nasa computers  -  hangs in the balance.

In just a few days, this softly-spoken 43-year- old, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism), will go to the High Court in London for a judicial review that might allow him to appeal again against his extradition.

This will be his last chance to stop the British Government sending him for trial in the U.S., where, if found guilty, he could spend what’s left of his life in a maximum security jail in New Jersey.

McKinnon’s crime was to hack into U.S. military computers in a naive attempt to unearth secrets about the existence of alien life.


Gary McKinnon and Tamsin

Lost love: Gary McKinnon in happier times with former girlfriend Tamsin

It was thoughtless technological vandalism, certainly.

Yet in an astonishingly heavy-handed campaign, the U.S. authorities have sought to have McKinnon extradited using an agreement to aid the prosecution of terror suspects.

His case hasn’t gone unnoticed.

A bandwagon of celebrities who wouldn’t disgrace an A-list party have lined up to campaign for the cause of this Glaswegian-born geek, who has been fascinated by UFOs since the age of ten.

Sting, actress Julie Christie, Terry Waite, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Jane Asher, Peter Gabriel, Tony Benn, former Home Secretary David Blunkett  -  not to mention Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne and The Proclaimers  -  have all expressed their heartfelt sympathies.

It’s astonishing that such a case has become such a cause celebre.


Janis Sharp

Campaign: Gary’s mother Janis Sharp

McKinnon is gaunt, shy and naive  -  a very unlikely hero.

Julie Christie has written to the Home Secretary expressing her hope that he ‘will not become yet another victim of the American judicial system’.

Terry Waite says ‘common sense’ is needed because McKinnon’s mental condition made him ‘irrationally obsessive’.

He also asks: ‘Was Gary a spy? Was he attempting to bring down the mighty military force of the U.S.?

‘As far as I know, he was not. He was simply looking for little green men.’

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has argued: ‘It is brutal, mad and wrong even to consider sending this man to America for trial.

‘How can the British Government be so protoplasmic, so pathetic, so heedless of the well-being of its own people, as to sign a warrant for his extradition?’

Former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has also sung in support of McKinnon on a compilation CD and rock band Marillion have promised to play at a concert backing the hacker.

But when McKinnon finally appears on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice, his celebrity backers will mean little as he faces judgment accompanied by just his mother, Janis, and solicitor Karen Todner.

Despite the sympathy, the family are not exactly awash with financial donations from their famous supporters.

Indeed, McKinnon’s ‘Free Gary’ campaign website was financed by a family friend.

Janis is the one keeping up her frail son’s spirits.

The heartbreak of their seven-year legal battle has certainly taken its toll  -  McKinnon even attempted suicide, believing his parents would be better off without him.

‘It’s brought the whole family to the brink of despair,’ Janis says. ‘Gary’s life is in ruins. He has panic attacks. He jumps out of his skin when the doorbell goes  -  and that’s apart from his problems with Asperger’s.’

But how did it come to this?

Terry Waite
Julie Christie

Support: Terry Waite and Julie Christie, just two of the big names who have questioned the need for Gary to be extradited

Caught up in his obsession with aliens  -  and given to smoking cannabis and staying up late into the night  -  McKinnon’s crime was that over a period of two years, starting in 2000, he used his home computer in North London to infiltrate, examine and, allegedly, crash parts of the U.S. military computer network, before and after the 9/11 attacks in New York.

The actions of this gentle man have been called ‘the biggest military computer hack of all time’  -  even though the U.S. is supposed to have the most sophisticated computer security systems in the world.

At one point, McKinnon was even alleged to have wiped important files at the Earle Naval Weapons Station near New Jersey, paralysing munitions supply for the U.S. Atlantic fleet.

He’s also alleged to have shut down 2,000 Army computers for 24 hours  -  posting a notice on the military website saying: ‘Your security is cr*p.’

The Americans are, unsurprisingly, furious. ‘This was a gross intrusion into a vital military computer system at a time when we, as a nation, had to summon all our resources against further attack,’ explained one Assistant U.S. Attorney.


Aerial view of the World Trade Center in the days after the 9/11 attacks

Suspicion: Gary McKinnon hacked into the U.S. military computer network before and after the 9/11 attacks

The trouble is, McKinnon didn’t stop there. Once he’d started hacking, he couldn’t stop.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, McKinnon went so far as to post a message on the website under his online pen name ‘SOLO’.

It read: ‘U.S. foreign policy is akin to government-sponsored terrorism these days . . . It was not a mistake that there was a huge security standdown on September 11 last year. . . I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels.’

U.S. authorities now allege that McKinnon caused £;500,000 worth of damage to their computers, a charge he fiercely denies.

Despite his denials, as one attorney put it: ‘There are some Americans who want to see Gary fry.’

McKinnon was caught when investigators traced software he used back to his girlfriend’s email account. The British police first knocked on his door in 2002.

Initially, the authorities were laid-back about the supposed cyber-terrorist in their midst.

‘Don’t worry,’ police told him, ‘There’s no evidence that you’ve caused any damage. You’re looking at six months community service.’

‘They also said that, out of all the computers they’d examined, Gary was one of the only people whose computer had no pornography on it,’ his mother tells me with a faint smile.

They even suggested he might try for a job in their high-tech unit once the case was over  -  so great were his computer skills.

McKinnon has never claimed innocence  -  indeed, quite the opposite. ‘What I did was illegal and wrong, and I accept I should be punished.

‘But I am not a member of Al-Qaeda and I am not a terrorist. The American reaction has been out of all proportion. They want to destroy me.’

The British Crown Prosecution declined to press charges against him after this first arrest  -  but that didn’t deter the American authorities.

They started to press hard for his extradition.


The Pentagon

The Pentagon pictured after the 9/11 attacks. The hacker posted messages mocking the ‘cr*p’ security of the American military computer system

In June 2005, he was re-arrested and sent to Brixton prison.

‘Gary was held overnight in a cell with a Scottish murderer,’ Janis tells me. ‘He was beside himself.’

The following morning, McKinnon was taken to court. ‘I could see he was terrified,’ says his stepfather, Wilson Sharp.

‘I thought “He’s not going to survive being locked up.”

‘He’s a gentle guy. He’s a vegetarian and a pacifist  -  a musician. I was so relieved when he was given bail.’

But the bail was to cost McKinnon dear. One of the conditions of his freedom was that he could not use a computer to connect to the internet  -  a terrible blow for a man who lived with a keyboard in front of him day and night, often sitting in front of his computer in his dressing gown, drinking beer.

His notoriety also cost him his relationship with his girlfriend, Tamsin, saw him kicked out of two different flats, and lose a string of jobs.

He now lives on benefits in rented accommodation.

But one good thing did come out of McKinnon’s notoriety.


Boris Johnson

‘Brutal, mad and wrong’: Boris Johnson has also spoken out against the attempt to extradite Gary McKinnon

In 2007, after he appeared on television to argue his case against extradition, his behaviour onscreen led a string of medical experts  -  including Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University, one of the world’s leading authorities on autism – to contact the show’s producers to suggest that he could have Asperger’s Syndrome.

The experts pointed out that McKinnon’s monotone voice, his lack of hand expressions and his ‘overly literal’ view of the world were all symptoms of the condition.

It all made sense to Janis.

She remembered that Gary had been an introverted and sensitive child who taught himself to play the piano by the age of seven.

‘One day, we came in to find him playing the Moonlight Sonata,’ she recalls. ‘He spent all his time composing music alone in his room.’

As McKinnon grew up, so he retreated farther and farther into his obsessive world, launching a life-long obsession with aliens  -  joining the British UFO Research Association at the age of ten.

It was this obsession that led McKinnon to hack into the military computer systems.

He was convinced that the Pentagon and Nasa had secret evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

Deluded, even a little mad you might think, but hardly the hallmark of a terrorist.

Yet American authorities clearly want to send a message to the computer hackers of the world  -  and are using McKinnon to do it.

McKinnon says: ‘I would gladly face trial in the UK now under the Computers Misuse Act. Britain is the only country in the world that will extradite its own nationals without prima facie evidence.’

His newly-discovered medical condition forms the basis of this last High Court appeal, in an attempt to establish whether his condition had an impact on his actions  -  and whether a lengthy period of imprisonment might damage his frail psyche.

Janis remains hopeful. ‘Gary’s Asperger’s doesn’t excuse what he did, because if you commit a crime, you commit a crime.

‘But I would say to both Gordon Brown and David Cameron: you both know about having young, vulnerable sons.

‘Should we really be extraditing our vulnerable adults and letting them serve so long abroad? Seventy years for looking for UFOs?

‘Gary just wants to be tried in his own country.’

But right now, McKinnon is ‘just waiting’, according to his mother.

‘The only thing that is getting him through is cooking,’ she says.

‘He loves to cook vegetarian food. He is so precise. Each mushroom has to be cut to exactly the same size. Right now, that’s what keeps him together.’

As for Janis, all she can do is spend every minute of the day campaigning for him.

‘We’ve been told of stun guns and male rape in these American penitentiaries.

‘I have awful nightmares of what will happen to Gary in one of those hell-holes.’

She now pins all her hopes on the judicial appeal.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of her son’s actions, it is heart-rending to hear the desperation in her voice as she speaks of her son’s future.

When her bewildered boy walks into the High Court, the only people who can save him from an American maximum security jail, and the possibility of life behind bars, are the judges on the bench.

ADDITIONAL reporting by Zoe Brennan

Source:   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1189651/Can-harmless-UFO-obsessive-stricken-autism-saved-70-years-brutal-American-jail.html

Related Articles

Gary McKinnon Updates(Includes Petition):

First Published Monday, 1 June 2009

The digital format allows you to flick through the pages as if you had the publication in your hands. Inside you’ll find articles on: World famous psychologist Albert Bandura’s efforts to tackle global problems with the help of psychosocial theory; The benefits and dangers of virtual worlds for psychology research, teaching and therapy; The psychology of siblings; Giftedness and the brain; plus masses more.

The Psychologist magazine is the Society’s flagship publication, see the homepage for this month’s issue, our latest news, a readers’ forum and access to the online archive.

The Psychologist is free to members of the British Psychological Society
(join here), or just £60 per year (£70 overseas) for non-members (e-mail sarah.stainton [@] bps.org.uk).

Source:   http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2009/06/june-issue-of-psychologist-magazine.html

First Published Monday, 1 June 2009

Riala K, Hakko H, Räsänen P, and Study-70 Workgroup

Department of Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, BOX 26, 90029 OYS, Finland; Department of Psychiatry, University of Oulu, BOX 5000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland

Objective: There are no studies investigating the degree of nicotine dependence (ND) and suicidality among underage adolescents. Our aim was to investigate the relationship between ND and various forms of suicidal behavior among adolescent psychiatric inpatients in Finland.

Methods: Data were collected from 508 patients (age, 12-17 years) admitted to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization between April 2001 and March 2006. The level of ND was assessed by the modified Fagerström Tolerance Questionnaire. Information on adolescents’ suicide attempts and self-mutilation as well as psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, diagnoses was obtained by using the Schedule for Affective Disorder and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children.

Results: After adjusting for adolescents’ age and psychiatric diagnoses, a more than 4-fold risk for suicide attempts (odds ratio [OR], 4.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3-17.2) and self-mutilative behavior (OR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.6-13.3) was found among female adolescents with a high level of ND compared to nonsmoking adolescent females. In addition, the risk for suicide attempts was only increased by a high level of ND, whereas the risk for self-mutilation was increased among females with mild ND as well. Among males, the level of ND was not associated with suicide attempts or self-mutilative behavior.

Conclusions: The level of ND should be taken into account when evaluating adolescent suicidality. Further sex-specific studies with accurate measurements of nicotine and its metabolites in relation to various suicidal and self-destructive behaviors are needed.


First Published Monday, 1 June 2009

Liz Chester & Tammy Gibbs

A study from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has shown a link between Western-style diets and more mental health problems in teenagers.

The research paper has been published online in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Report author and leader of Nutrition studies at the Institute, Dr Wendy Oddy, said the results were based on detailed analysis of diet records and behavior checklists that were collected from more than 1600 West Australian 14-year-olds in the Raine Cohort Study.

Our analysis found that higher levels of behavior and emotional problems were associated with a more Western-style way of eating, namely a diet high in takeaway foods, red meat, confectionary, soft drinks, white bread and unrefined cereals,” Dr Oddy said.

We also showed that these problems were less among teens with a more healthier style of eating, specifically those who ate more fruit and vegetables.

This suggests that if we want to reduce the high rates of mental health problems among young people, then improving their overall diet could be a good place to start.

The study participants’ food intake was assessed using a 212-item food frequency questionnaire. The Child Behaviour Checklist was used to assess internalizing mental health problems, such as withdrawn and depressed behaviors, and externalizing mental health problems, such as delinquent and aggressive behaviors.

Dr Oddy said previous studies have shown that one in five children are expected to develop some form of mental health problem by the time they reach adulthood, and that 50% of all adult mental health problems develop during adolescence.

We know that since 1985, children and teenagers have been increasing their energy intake by consuming more soft drinks and processed foods. The number of overweight adolescents has doubled and obesity has tripled in that age group. At the same time there have been marked increases in sedentary behaviors such as TV viewing and computer use,” Dr Oddy said.

Investigating factors that influence mental health in young people must be a high priority. These findings show that there is a need to look at the overall diet, rather than concentrate on individual nutrients.

Oddy WH, Robinson M, Ambrosini GL, et al. The association between dietary patterns and mental health in early adolescence. Prev Med. 2009 May 23;doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.05.009   [Abstract]