Former military advisor urges US to pardon Gary McKinnon - to help recruit more hackers
US authorities have refused to formally drop charges against Asperger’s sufferer
British computer hacker Gary McKinnon should be pardoned by US President Barack Obama in a bid to court others who may want to work for the American government, a former military advisor has said.
Asperger’s sufferer Mr McKinnon, who was accused of the “biggest military computer hack of all time”, fended off attempts to extradite him to America last year. But he is still officially wanted by US authorities, who refused to formally drop charges against him, despite the British Home Secretary’s decision to keep him at home.
John Arquilla, a US Naval Postgraduate School professor and advisor to former American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said that the gesture could help in a drive to recruit “master hackers”.
In the journal Foreign Policy, Mr Arquilla wrote: “If the notion of trying to attract master hackers to our cause is ever to take hold, this might be just the right case in which President Obama should consider using his power to pardon.
“One presidential act of mercy, such as in the case of McKinnon, won’t entirely repair relations or build trust between hackers and the government, but it would be a strong signal of officialdom’s growing awareness of the wisdom of embracing and employing the skills of these masters of their virtual domain.”
The US authorities have cracked down on hackers in recent years but plans were announced last week to increase the size of the US Cyber Command to about 5,000 hackers as America attempts to take the online fight to China, which he said is more supportive of its own hacking community.
He wrote: “Hackers may be courted and pampered in China, Russia, and other countries, but in the United States they are often hunted by lawmen. The judicial system is very tough on them, too.” This problem, he argued, could be partially solved by pardoning Mr McKinnon.
Mr McKinnon’s extradition was blocked by Home Secretary Theresa May on humanitarian grounds. His supporters argued that he suffered from depression and could kill himself if put on trial in America, where he faced up to 70 years in jail. Ms May tabled amendments to laws governing extradition, proposing to allow courts to block removals if a judge believed justice could be served by the defendant standing trial in the UK.
Scottish independence: Despite defeat history may still point to Alex Salmond as the victor
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish referendum: Police struggle to control Unionist rally in Glasgow's George Square
Glasgow 'riots': 'Dishonest' social media users accused of fuelling panic with pictures from London riots
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster