The UK government has revoked the order to extradite Gary McKinnon to the USA to face trial for computer hacking. This is an important win for McKinnon, who has been fighting extradition since 2006.
However, Gary now faces the prospect of trial in the UK. This would undoubtedly be less distressing for him than extradition to the USA, and he has said that he is willing to face trial in this country. But this still raises some issues and concerns.
Firstly, there is the issue of whether McKinnon’s actions in this case – hacking into US government defence websites – caused harm.
Secondly, there is Gary’s Asperger Syndrome. Gary was using his ability with computers to pursue his special interest in UFOs and their suspected cover-up when he accessed the defence information. This action is consistent with Asperger’s, in particular with the Asperger’s trait of perseveration, sometimes referred to as "obsession". (Note that this is not the same as arguing that Gary’s Asperger’s made him commit the computer hacking - as autism is a spectrum condition, it affects different people differently.)
Laws should apply universally, but that application should recognise diversity. People who have disabilities or differences should not be tried against the standards of those who have not. If a blind person bumped into something and broke it, should s/he be tried for criminal damage?! Gary McKinnon’s case should be heard – but it may not be appropriate for him to face criminal trial on the same terms that a non-autistic person would for acting in a way that is consistent with his neurology.