David Blackburn

Gary McKinnon should convert to radical Islam

Gary McKinnon should convert to radical Islam
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The European Court of Human Rights is an essential check on executive excess, but today it has perverted justice. It has halted Abu Hamza’s extradition to the US, where he was to be tried for colluding with al Qaeda. Its view was that Hamza would likely be subject to inhumane and degrading incarceration. In other words, the ECHR has decided that the US prison system is not compatible with the standards agreed by signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights. Fine.

Except, of course, it has not. There is a pernicious double standard at work here. Gary McKinnon, the aspergers sufferer who hacked into the Pentagon’s computer systems, is to be deported to the US. Is there a significant difference between colluding with Islamists and committing an act of 'computer misuse' against a sovereign state's defence intelligence systems? I would argue that there is not: both are very serious offences, and McKinnon could have (indeed may have) sold his information to unknown third parties. The ECHR disagrees: it rejected Gary McKinnon’s extradition appeal outright. Therefore it follows that whilst disabled Islamists are not safe in US Prisons, anything goes for anyone else.

Now, I don’t see why McKinnon and Hamza should be extradited: they could serve their terms in Britain. But it is absolutely incontrovertible that all are equal before the law; it should not privilege religious fanatics. The decision is a disgrace.