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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

McKinnon, Obama, and Cameron

The Gary McKinnon case came up in discussions between President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. From their joint press conference:

Q Mr. President, Tom Bradby, ITV News. Quite a lot of people in the U.K. feel that your determination as a country to continue to push for the extradition of computer hacker and Asperger’s sufferer, Gary McKinnon is disproportionate and somewhat harsh. Do you think it is time now to consider some leniency in this case?

And, Prime Minister, you’ve expressed very strong views on this matter, suggesting that Mr. McKinnon shouldn’t be extradited. Your Deputy Prime Minister has expressed even stronger views. Did you discuss that with the President today? And if not, would now be a good moment to share your views with us once again?


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please, go ahead.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: It is something that we discussed in our meeting. I mean, clearly there’s a discussion going on between the British and the Americans about this, and I don't want to prejudice those discussions. We completely understand that Gary McKinnon stands accused of a very important and significant crime in terms of hacking into vital databases. And nobody denies that that is an important crime that has to be considered. But I have had conversations with the U.S. ambassador, as well as raising it today with the President, about this issue, and I hope a way through can be found.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, one of the things that David and I discussed was the increasing challenge that we’re going to face as a consequence of the Internet and the need for us to cooperate extensively on issues of cybersecurity.

We had a brief discussion about the fact that although there may still be efforts to send in spies and try to obtain state secrets through traditional Cold War methods, the truth of the matter is these days, where we’re going to see enormous vulnerability when it comes to information is going to be through these kind of breaches in our information systems. So we take this very seriously. And I know that the British government does, as well.

Beyond that, one of the traditions we have is the President doesn’t get involved in decisions around prosecutions, extradition matters. So what I expect is that my team will follow the law, but they will also coordinate closely with what we’ve just stated is an ally that is unparalleled in terms of our cooperative relationship. And I trust that this will get resolved in a way that underscores the seriousness of the issue, but also underscores the fact that we work together and we can find an appropriate solution.