Boris Johnson's outspoken defence of Gary McKinnon in his extradition fight has been criticised by a former security consultant, who complains he was denied such support when he himself was charged with hacking offences.
Daniel Cuthbert was convicted in October 2005 of breaking the Computer Misuse Act by "hacking" into a tsunami appeal website in December 2004, and fined £400 plus £600 in costs. He was subsequently forced to change career after the prosecution, which was widely seen by his peers as misguided. Cuthbert now wants to know why he wasn't shown any support from politicians of the kind lent to McKinnon by Johnson.
The London mayor wrote a barbed critique of attempts by US authorities to drag McKinnon over to the US to answer for charges of hacking into US military systems, rather than be tried in the UK for his admitted offences, in an opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph on Monday. Johnson argues that treating McKinnon as a "cyberterrorist" rather than a hacker with out-there beliefs is itself lunacy.
McKinnon is far from the first Brit to face high-profile computer charges, but the degree of political support he's received - a motion on his behalf was signed by 80 MPs, to say nothing of the lampooning of extradition proceedings by the London mayor - is unprecedented, and a tribute to the long-running campaign fought by McKinnon's lawyers and supporters.
Cuthbert's woes began when he made a donation through the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) site. After failing to get a confirmation email, he became suspicious and carried out two tests to check its security. These actions triggered a warning on the intrusion detection system behind the site, maintained by BT, who reported the matter to police. This ultimately led to Cuthbert's arrest, conviction and inability to continue his career as an IT security consultant.
After a spell in Thailand, Cuthbert is back in the UK and studying for an MA in documentary and photojournalism at the London College of Communication. Cuthbert - who has repeatedly spoken out against the extradition proceedings against McKinnon in the past - ruefully notes that he didn't enjoy the benefit of support from political figures, such as the London mayor.
"Whilst it would be lovely if Boris could talk about my conviction, the chance of that happening is slim," Cuthbert told El Reg."