No wonder Gary McKinnon feels suicidal I just hope his lawyers aren't! Perhaps at the awful 2 a.m. moment Gary thinks about the time in 2002 when he was offered a plea bargain by the US Department of Justice. It's all in the House of Lords judgment here (pdf).
The first point to bear in mind is that McKinnon admitted hacking into 97 U.S. Government computer networks. He has never accepted he caused any damage. No damage? That proposition is surely unsupportable at trial.
This was the offer made to McKinnon's solicitors in April 2003.There seems little doubt about its terms.
Mr Stein [US Dept of Justice]confirmed that he was authorised to offer the appellant a
deal in return for not contesting extradition and for agreeing to plead
guilty to two of the counts laid against him of “fraud and related activity
in connection with computers”. On this basis it was likely that a
sentence of 3-4 years (more precisely 37-46 months), probably at the
shorter end of that bracket, would be passed and that after serving 6-12
months in the US, the appellant would be repatriated to complete his
sentence in the UK. In this event his release date would be determined
by reference to the UK’s remission rules namely, in the case of a
sentence not exceeding four years, release at the discretion of the parole
board after serving half the nominal sentence, release as of right at the
two-thirds point. On that basis, he might serve a total of only some
eighteen months to two years.
Not only would McKinnon spend less than twelve months in a U.S prison, that time would be spent in a 'Federal Jail ' where the facilities were miles away from the orange jump-suited prisoners in Guantanamo reported in the media.
Tha alternative proposed, should McKinnon feel unable to accept the plea bargain, was again outlined by the Department of Justice during the negotiations.
If, however, the appellant chose not to cooperate, and were then
extradited and convicted, he might expect to receive a sentence of 8-10
years, possibly longer, and would not be repatriated to the UK for any
part of it. He would accordingly serve the whole sentence in a US
prison (possibly high security) with at best some 15% remission.
In addition it was likely that McKinnon would be granted bail whilst waiting for his trial.
Their Lordships' judgment is well worth reading.
The ovewhelming evidence points to the fact that by now McKinnon would have completed his sentence. I do hope his lawyers have his written instructions, preferably signed in his blood, to reject the 2002/2003 plea bargain!