James Slack of The Daily Mail has an article on the extradition battle for Gary McKinnon, a case that has become somewhat of a cause celebre. The case raises a number of issues, including whether extraditing someone with Asperger’s Disorder to face a potentially lengthy prison sentence in the U.S. constitutes a serious threat to his health.
If prison sentences are threats to the health of individuals with Asperger’s Disorder, then both the UK and the US need to immediately pass laws giving people with Asperger’s Disorder a “get out of long jail sentences free” pass. And while they’re at it, they should also give free passes to people with Depression, Bipolar Disorder, anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and every other neuropsychiatric disorder. For good measure, they should throw in some provision about speedy trials, too, as the stress of having a trial hanging over one’s head cannot be good for health.
McKinnon’s crimes should be prosecuted under the laws that were in effect between 2001 and 2003 when he committed the alleged crimes and his extradition should be viewed in light of the extradition laws that were in effect at the time he committed the crimes. The basis for the UK’s extradition decision should not focus on McKinnon’s mental health because it would assign people with neurological disorders to second-class or alternate-class citizenship. The logical extension would be that if people with neurological disorders require additional protections and cannot be held to the same standards as everyone else, perhaps they shouldn’t enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else.
The UK need only look for precedent in extradition cases where young people have done foolish things. What McKinnon did is undeniably illegal and problematic, but there is already precedent in the UK for not extraditing young people who also wrecked havoc with U.S. military systems. The U.K. should not give in to the U.S.’s demands on this one. Even if we assume that all of the U.S.’s claims are true, the U.K. is perfectly capable of prosecuting this case where the crime occurred — in the U.K.