Gary McKinnon Has Asperger’s Syndrome; So Does Talha Ahsan

By Alex MacDonald  16 Oct 2012

So, Theresa May has blocked the extradition of Gary McKinnon on the basis that, as someone who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, he will be a suicide risk? In spite of the fact that he is allegedly responsible for one of the biggest military computer hacks of all time our Home Secretary has stood up for one of our citizens, in spite of the loathsome extradition treaty we share with the the USA, and protected a vulnerable citizen.

At first, you might think that Theresa May’s use of the Human Rights Act (which she supposedly despises) might mean she was turning over a new leaf. However, this month, she willingly sent the young British poet and SOAS student Talha Ahsan to the USA (along with Babar Ahmed and Abu Hamza) to face possible solitary confinement in a supermax prison – in spite of the fact that he also suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. Not to mention that Talha Ahsan’s involvement with the USA seems vague at best. According to the BBC, “It is claimed they used the now defunct site – Azzam Publications – to upload extremist videos, raise funds for the Taliban and insurgents in Chechnya.”

As vile as McKinnon’s extradition would have been, he did at least threaten American security with his actions, directly affecting high profile government and military departments. Ahsan’s actions may not be nice (if he committed them), but they do not immediately threaten American security in the same way – and besides, why is he not tried in this country? He was instead put in a maximum security prison, without charge, for six years.

Could the difference possibly be that Talha Ahsan is a Muslim? Surely not.

Speaking to his brother Hamja Ahsan, who runs the Free Talha Ahsan website and campaigns for his release: “He’s never been to the United States, y’know, in his life, and the United States are claiming jurisdiction over Britain, which is an independent sovereign nation state. Britain’s leaders seem to sell out their sovereignty as if they were the 51st state of America. The first duty of government is protect its own citizens and that’s gone out of the window.”

According to a medico legal report in 2009, Ahsan is “an extremely vulnerable individual who from a psychiatric perspective would be more appropriately placed in a specialist service for adults with autistic disorders.” If McKinnon is a suicide risk, surely this also applies to Talha Ahsan?

Theresa May’s actions here are merely a cheap gesture to the public while she allows the 2003 Extradition Act (which even former home secretary David Blunkett now regrets implementing) to force many more British citizens to be shuttled across the pond without evidence for brutal treatment at the hands of American justice; if Talha Ahsan comes to harm as a result of his autism, I certainly hope that people will be quick to point out the home secretary’s hypocrisy.


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