Gary McKinnon is mentally fit for extradition, report says

March 28, 2012
Gary McKinnon

Channel4.com on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“New evidence seen by Channel 4 News suggests Gary McKinnon is mentally fit enough to be extradited. But the report is by an expert who previously said McKinnon would likely commit suicide if deported.

Mr McKinnon (pictured) has fought for more than a decade to stop the government extraditing him to the US on computer hacking charges. The decision over whether to reject the request for his transfer across the Atlantic has hinged on the likelihood of him trying to take his own life.

He is wanted by the US authorities on charges of hacking into Nasa and Pentagon computers from his home in north London in the months following 9/11.

Three years ago, Mr McKinnon’s legal team commissioned Prof Declan Murphy to carry out a psychiatric examination of the 46-year-old, as they fought to prove that the Asperger’s sufferer would likely commit suicide if he was extradited.

And Professor Murphy’s evaluation of Mr McKinnon appeared to firmly support the lawyers’ argument that transiting him to America would be in breach of European convention.

The King’s College academic concluded that unless the patient he had seen was under constant supervision if he was to be imprisoned in the US, he would almost certainly attempt suicide.

Last year, the Home Office – which will ultimately decide whether to green-light his extradition – also hired Professor Murphy to give his professional opinion on Mr McKinnon, even though he had not seen the Scottish hacker since writing his original report.

Sources say the report will represent “the final word” in Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision, even though four other experts have also submitted evaluations, having seen Mr McKinnon face-to-face in recent months and years.

Channel 4 News has seen Prof Murphy’s two reports – the one from 2009 and the one from the end of last year – and the contrast between them is stark.

In his 2009 report commissioned by Mr McKinnon’s family, Professor Murphy warned: “If Mr McKinnon is deported to the US, he will require – in my opinion – continual observation on a one-one basis during that time period, and for the rest of his incarceration. If this does not happen, he is likely to make a serious attempt at suicide.

That assessment appears to have changed drastically by last year, when he makes no recommendation for one-to-one, round-the-clock observation of Mr McKinnon.

In the report commissioned by the Home Office he writes: “The risk of actual self-harm could be ameliorated by regular contact with mental health professionals with supportive counselling and listening services of the type that are available within UK prisons.”

And. asked by the Home Office to assess the chances of Mr McKinnon killing himself if his deportation was granted, Prof Murphy plays down the possibility by describing how his suicide plans were far-fetched and poorly thought out.

“Suicide plans are not well formulated, e.g. he initially informed Dr Vermeulen about an elaborate plan to harm himself involving potassium chloride and electric shock, though he then gave contradictory accounts of his level of knowledge about the likely fatal dose of potassium chloride,” he writes.

But Professor Murphy he makes no mention of a conversation he had with his patient three years earlier – included in his original report – in which Mr McKinnon stated he would kill himself by overdosing on sleeping tablets, an arguably less “elaborate” plan.

Professor Murphy said that he could not comment on Mr McKinnon’s case while it is still being considered by the Home Secretary.

Human rights lawyer, Julian Knowles QC, said that there is no conflict of interest regarding Professor Murphy’s reports for both the McKinnon family and the Home Office.

“There is no property in a witness. A witness is not owned by either side. The witness is under obligation not to reveal privileged matters that are confidential, but there is no problem in speaking to either side,” he said.

But Mr McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, said she could not understand why Professor Murphy’s conclusions appeared to have changed, particularly as her son had refused to see the pychiatrist for almost three years.

“He’s obviously changed his mind,” she said.

And referring to reports of Mr McKinnon’s mental state by other experts, she added: “What basis could he possibly have to go against the expert opinions of four of the top people in the country, who say that Gary will absolutely take his own life. It’s an in absentia report and it contradicts his previous face-to-face report. What did he base this on? It’s a mystery to everyone.”

Ms Sharp said that the contents of Professor Murphy’s latest evaluation had upset her son.

“To suddenly have Professor Murphy say the opposite for no reason that anyone can fathom has shaken Gary to the core,” she said.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties campaign group Liberty, told Channel 4 News that the dissimilarities in Professor Murphy’s two reports calls into question the Home Office’s handling of Mr McKinnon’s extradition case.

“I think there are obviously questions now about Professor Murphy’s second report: it’s so contrasting with the first report which was based on an interview with Gary McKinnon,” she said.

“I’m interested in what makes a senior consultant psychiatrist, having seen a patient [and concluded that] they have a fixed idea that suicide is the best outcome for them, to switch to saying there’s only a moderate risk of suicide.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a psychiatrist who’s seen a patient and written a report then speaks to the home office and waters down the report.”

Ms Chakrabarti added: “If all the Home Office has got to say that Gary McKinnon is fit for extradition is the evidence of an expert who contradicts his earlier evidence on [his] vulnerability, I think it’s impossible for the home office to extradite this man.”

As recently as this month, David Cameron raised Mr McKinnon’s plight with US President Barack Obama. And in opposition, the prime minister backed his bid to be tried in the UK.

In a statement, the home office said:

“After consulting the Chief Medical Officer, the Home Secretary instructed two independent experts to review the case and their report was sent to Mr McKinnon’s representatives on 24 February in line with the directions of the court. Mr McKinnon and his legal team have until 6 April to respond and make any further representations.

“The Home Secretary will consider the report alongside all other relevant material and aims to reach a decision as soon as is consistent with dealing fairly and properly with this case.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


FBI Seeks Extradition of Alleged Internet ‘Pirate’

January 20, 2012
Megaupload Kim Dotcom
Alleged Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom. Photo: Reuters

The Sydney Morning Herald on January 21, 2012 released the following:

“Kirsty Johnston

AN INTERNET multimillionaire accused of online piracy who allegedly headed up the global file-sharing website Megaupload.com from his luxury mansion north of Auckland faces extradition to the US after he was arrested yesterday by armed police at the request of US officials.

The FBI yesterday shut down Megaupload.com, one of the world’s most popular file-sharing websites, after filing an indictment in a US court earlier this month alleging its founder, Kim Dotcom, 37, (also known as Kim Schmitz) and six others, dubbed the ”Mega Conspiracy”, engaged in racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

Schmitz, a former computer hacker, and six others were arrested on five charges laid in an indictment by a US grand jury in the state of Virginia.

The US Justice Department and the FBI who led the crackdown said Megaupload.com and other related sites generated more than $US175 million ($A168 million) in criminal proceeds and caused copyright holders more than $US500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content.

Megaupload is based in Hong Kong, but some of the alleged pirated content was hosted in the US on leased servers in Ashburn, Virginia, which gave US authorities jurisdiction, the indictment said.

Megaupload has boasted of having more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors, according to the FBI indictment. At one point, it was estimated to be the 13th most frequently visited website on the internet.

Schmitz founded the Hong Kong-based Megaupload website in 2005, which distributed a myriad of copyrighted works including movies, television programs, music, software and books. Megaupload also offered financial incentives for users to upload popular content and drive web traffic to the site.

Schmitz made $US42 million from Megaupload and other associated websites in 2010, according to the FBI’s indictment.

Despite opposition to the site’s operations from record labels and other copyright holders, many celebrities and artists backed its work – with chart-toppers Kanye West, Will.i.am and P. Diddy starring in a support video last year.

The US indictment paints a picture of a sprawling multinational operation, with more than 20 search warrants executed in nine countries, including New Zealand and the US.

When he appeared in Auckland’s North Shore District Court yesterday, Schmitz, a flamboyant German computer hacker who has past convictions from his home country, said he ”had nothing to hide” when appearing alongside three of his co-accused. ”We don’t mind if there’s press coverage if people want to photograph us, let them,” he said, overriding his lawyer, Auckland QC Paul Davison.

Detective Inspector Grant Wormald said it was ”likely” the men had also breached New Zealand copyright laws, although police had no intention of laying charges in the country.

The men face copyright infringement charges in the US which carry sentences of up to 20 years.

Schmitz is no stranger to being on the wrong side of the law, with a list of convictions including insider trading, credit card fraud, hacking and embezzlement. Schmitz also holds Finnish citizenship, and has Hong Kong and New Zealand residency.

Schmitz was granted New Zealand residency, reportedly after investing $NZ10 million ($A8 million) in government bonds and making a generous donation to the Christchurch earthquake fund.

Possessions taken from his $30 million mansion yesterday provided a hint of the extravagant lifestyles of the accused men.

More than 20 luxury cars worth a combined $6 million were taken from the site, including a 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, with the licence plate ”GOD”. Others including Mercedes Benzes, a Maserati and a Harley Davison motorbike.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.