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UK Hacker Ryan Cleary Has Asperger's Syndrome, Court Told

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:24AM (#36574838) Homepage Journal

    Looks like the UK Government are going to help him with his fear of open spaces.

    • by Sulphur (1548251) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:36AM (#36574886)

      Looks like the UK Government are going to help him with his fear of open spaces.

      Socialized medicine again?

      --

      The amnesia epidemic has been forgotten

  • I don't have a source ready, but that has been his defense for over a year.
    • by Martin S. (98249)

      The defence is that the diagnosis would fail the "cruel and unusual punishment test" element of "extradition". Which is intended to prevent extradition to counties that allow capital punishment or torture.

      • by Ash Vince (602485) *

        The defence is that the diagnosis would fail the "cruel and unusual punishment test" element of "extradition". Which is intended to prevent extradition to counties that allow capital punishment or torture.

        Wrong person!!!!!! You and the previous poster are both talking about Gary Mckinnon, the guy who went hacking US government computers looking for evidence of UFO's. This discussion is about Ryan Cleary, the guy arrested this week for organising denial of service attacks on the SOCA (our FBI), British Phonographic Institute (our RIAA) and the London based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. There is not currently any talk of extradition as he has already been charged with offences here in

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 1s44c (552956)

        Are you sure the UK doesn't extradite to countries that allow torture? There have been plenty of cases of them extraditing suspects to the US over the years.

  • lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:28AM (#36574854)

    "it's not my fault i'm a sociopathic piece of shit"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He's stupid too. If I were a sociopath, I'd get a nice job as a politician or CEO.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't that punishment enough?

  • Well buh (Score:3, Informative)

    by lisaparratt (752068) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:38AM (#36574894)

    Man on internet has aspergers. Film at 11: Sun is hot.

  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frps25 (1663043) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:39AM (#36574902)
    So what if he has Asperger? Are the lawyers implying that he is less responsible for his acts due his condition? Clearly they do not know anything about Asperger's syndrome and in fact are offending people with this kind of syndrome, this simply infuriates me, people with Asperger around the world are trying HARD to demonstrate that they can behave as normal as anybody else and this lawyers come with this just to save this guy's Ass, thats plain irresponsible!
    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:55AM (#36574956)

      Indeed. I probably have Abserger's, I score highly on most of the indicators, my wife (a paediatrician) thinks so, I think so. (I'm also a qualified doctor, but no longer practising). I have not been formally diagnosed, but I don't feel the need to do so.

      I've never sought to make it into a "condition". It's not a label I apply to myself. It's just part of the way I am. In some ways, I consider myself fortunate - it's almost certainly a contributor to my facility with computers, a skill that puts bread on my table.

      And it definitely doesn't interfere with your ability to distinguish right from wrong, or generate any uncontrollable urges to do "naughty" things.

      In some ways, I *would* have like it spotted earlier, because I could have had an easier time of school if people had just explained to me some of the things that people take for granted are "built in", like an understanding of interpersonal relationships. I know I have developed purely intellectual ways of dealing with these things, because I spot myself doing it now. When I did an Asberger's test, I recognized that for many of the questions about social interaction, my answers were not typical of Asberger's - but that I would have answered very differently 20 years ago, largely because I now understand how to form a social niche that I find workable.

      • Heh. Why be normal? Normal people aren't any happier than I am.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        This hearing was just to request bail, so their argument is that his condition should be considered when deciding if he has to remain in prison on remand or not.

        When the trial proper starts I imagine they will argue that the internet makes people behave differently due to the pseudo-anonymity it offer, and an Asperger's sufferer is more prone to being caught up in hacking groups than a normal person. They will probably also argue that he was not fully aware of the consequences of his actions.

        Gary McKinnon's

    • Exactly. If he had been diagnosed with moderate to severe Autism or something and basically lived inside his own head it might be some excuse for his actions (ie not being able to understand they were criminal). Asperger's syndrome just means you have some of the cognitive issues, particularly in regard to social situations, that people with Autism share. If you have those symptoms to the point they are crippling you will generally get diagnosed with Autism.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        One way a "aspie" may compensate for issues in daily life is by forming a fantasy world where they have a degree of control.

        • One way a "aspie" may compensate for issues in daily life is by forming a fantasy world where they have a degree of control.

          Oh, like the large proportion of the planet that watches television all day?

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        I can't tell from the article what's going on in the case at this point. The previous UK resident to bring up Asperger's wasn't doing it to get out of the charges, but to affect the request for extradition (claiming it's a diagnosed condition that would not be appropriately treated in the US, and the US essentially agreed that it would not be considered or treated were he to be extradited).

        Perhaps it's nothing more than setting up a basis for the agoraphobia or such to claim a basis for a neurosis or psyc
    • by c (8461)

      So what if he has Asperger? Are the lawyers implying that he is less responsible for his acts due his condition?

      Yep.

      Their job is to find absolutely anything which will get their client off and/or decrease the sentence. Doesn't matter if it's a medical condition, addiction, or something nasty like child sexual abuse, it's their duty to represent it to the court as something which drove the behaviour.

      The prosecution will, of course, be digging up evidence that the kid is some kind of Machiavellian criminal ma

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        There is something really messed up in the country when people testifying to court of law aren't trying to find out the truth but instead actively try to build up a hyperbole, even if they know it really isn't true.

        • by TheLink (130905)

          That's the way the UK, US and many countries do stuff:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adversarial_system [wikipedia.org]
          Another approach is this:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisitorial_system [wikipedia.org]

        • by murdocj (543661)

          That's the way the legal system works in the US. Each side has an advocate whose goal is not to "find the truth" but rather to advocate their side. The idea is that the truth comes out in the clash of two strong advocates. It makes sense, because the idea that you are going to have disinterested investigators arrive at the truth is difficult to implement. After all, pretty much everybody has an axe to grind... may as well take advantage of that.

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        yep its the same as the previous case with Gary McKinnon - getting diagnosed after the fact.
      • "The prosecution will, of course, be digging up evidence that the kid is some kind of Machiavellian criminal mastermind using his inhuman hacking skills to springboard to world domination..."

        That's the common (and faulty) perception of the public prosecutions role in our justice system.

        Sorry but not. The public prosecution/defense doesn't work in a symmetric way: it's true that defense should look for any legal breach that will allow its client to get rid of charges, but it's false that the prosecution rol

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The prosecution will, of course, be digging up evidence that the kid is some kind of Machiavellian criminal mastermind using his inhuman hacking skills to springboard to world domination...

        Seems that all he is being accused of is running an IRC server used by Anonymous and joining in with some DDOS attacks (probably using LOIC). There doesn't seem to be any link to LuzSec as all the crimes he is accused of took place last year.

        Showing that he was caught up with Anonymous and egged on to join in while suffering a mental condition that makes him prone to that sort of thing seems like a pretty good defence.

    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by splodus (655932) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @06:33AM (#36575048)

      I don't know what this means legally exactly but in UK law there is the defense of 'diminished responsibility'. For example, someone who would normally be convicted of murder may instead be convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility if they were suffering from an abnormality of mind.

      However what you seem to be suggesting is that if someone with a previously diagnosed condition would like it to be taken into account, then they shouldn't if sufferers of that condition usually try to get on with their lives? If so I think that's a difficult point to argue. Those with schizophrenia try to live normal lives and take responsibility for their actions but surely no one would claim that a sufferer who commits a crime whilst experiencing delusions was responsible.

      It's a matter of degree. I once had someone with asperger's in one of my classes and it was very difficult indeed. She once walked into my colleague's office, ignoring him completely, and began browsing his bookshelf! Now, if she had walked out with one of those books, would she have been responsible for theft? Legally? Of course. Compassionately? I would make allowances based on her condition...

      • by goodmanj (234846)

        In my not-a-doctor, not-a-lawyer opinion, the defense of "diminished responsibility" is a very good idea in general, but it should not apply to people with Asperger's. While it's a serious condition, I don't think affects your ability to judge right from wrong severely enough to be a legal defense.

        Part of the reason for this is that a classic symptom of Asperger's is the person's strict adherence to and insistence upon rules. Asperger's folks will freak out at you for jaywalking: if anything, they're *les

    • by Seumas (6865)

      Agreed. I don't mean to dismiss Aspergers, because I know that there are some people that it actually applies to and who are actually impacted (to some degree) by symptoms of it. Like the inability to discern certain social and facial/emotional cues. However, since it first became a "thing" a few years ago, 90% of everyone on every geek oriented website has self-diagnosed themselves with it. You can set your clock by it, too. Post anything about it at any time and anywhere and a flock of people claiming tha

      • What I don't get is the whole appeal of "wanting to have it". Some people seem so eager to claim they have Asperger's that you'd think it gave you a nine inch dick.

        The point is this:
        If you spent all your live struggling to understand the way social interaction works, if you always hat problems understanding why people behave this way or that and why they expect you to do this, it helps a lot if you get to know why you have these problems fitting in.

        When you know that it's a medical condition and that you are not doing anything 'wrong', you can concentrate on living your life, rather than spent time trying to figure out the why.

        Sure, a lot of people may misdiagnose the

        • by Seumas (6865)

          Being weird isn't a medical condition.

          I'm not saying that there aren't symptoms which can be severe enough together to deserve a diagnosis and some sort of effort to mitigate them for certain people, but all these people saying "well, gosh, I was awkward when I was in high school; now I know why" and therefore diagnosing themselves with Aspergers are just being dumb asses. People are different. Some are weird. Some are awkward. And in high school, pretty much EVERYONE was awkward. Hell, for the rest of life

          • This is biology. It's not black or white. It's shades of gray. Aspergers (and every other psychiatric diagnosis and most purely 'medical' diagnoses) are found on a continuum. It becomes pretty arbitrary when you call a set of symptoms a 'disease' or just a 'personality trait'. Most people get depressed from time to time. Some people stay that way and have that feeling permeate their life. Most people can act a tad manic at times. Only a few can go full bore onto a recognizable manic episode. It co
    • Unfortunately, some people want to see it that way. You actually see it online believe it or not. There are more than a few, usually self-diagnosed (and thus likely not real) Asperger people who use it as an excuse to be jerks. They are extremely anti-social, hostile, and so on and have the attitude of "I have Asperger Syndrome so I can't function in normal society. This gives me license to act however I like since it is just something I can't change."

      Pretty much if you can name a condition that causes peop

      • by hitmark (640295)

        Well that is one possible reaction to having said issue. One build up a view that one is in the right and the rest of the world is in the wrong. That is, one blame anyone but oneself for the troubles faced.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        If a person has problems controlling his/her actions then why shouldn't "Society" be allowed to exert more control over that person (e.g. jail, restrictions, loss of freedoms). Parents are essentially allowed to be near-dictators over their children till their children have "grown up".

        And if anyone does something wrong and claims to not have free will, why should he/she be treated better than a faulty machine that has failed?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Myu (823582)

      ... people with Asperger around the world are trying HARD to demonstrate that they can behave as normal as anybody else...

      It strikes me that this is a really strange thing to say. Surely it is exactly the nature of Asperger's syndrome that they NEED to try hard BECAUSE their natural ability to grasp what is "normal" is different to the other people they interact with!

      If your challenge was "he shouldn't be able to avoid prosecution on the grounds of his ability to perceive social standards", then the question is raised as to what the relationship between responsible agency and the comprehension of social standards is. We lear

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Sorry buy you seem to know very little about how Asperger's Syndrome works. I have moderate Asperger's and have difficulty interacting with people. The issue is not that I do not understand what is right or wrong, as in a law, but what is expected in social situations. In fact Aspergers has made me more of a rules lawyer than the average person. Laws are very black and white; it is very clear what is right or wrong and I have no problem discerning that. The widely known law against DoS attacks is not an iss

    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @07:34AM (#36575238)

      people with Asperger around the world are trying HARD to demonstrate that they can behave as normal as anybody else

      If they have to try that hard, then that says something in itself...

      There's nothing in Asperger's that would "excuse" anyone from being tried regularly. Insanity is a defense used for those that couldn't, at the time, understand what they were doing was wrong. However, there is nothing in that which would dismiss a criminal case.

      The previous application of Asperger's in the UK was to establish that it is a condition that would not be treated appropriately in the US were the person with it to be extradited. It wasn't used as a "he has this, he should be excused" argument, but that "he has a condition that would be ignored should he be extradited, and as such, it would be inhumane to extradite him because of that."

      If you actually understood Asperger's, I'd assert that the most offensive thing about this article is the last sentence (specifically the snide comment in the last clause), "He said Cleary is highly intelligent but agoraphobic and has difficulty interacting with people, presumably unless they are on the end of an Internet connection." The last clause adds nothing to the article, but takes a shot at those with Asperger's using computers to shield themselves from others. It's actually a good thing. Those who do not use or understand social cues do much better where those cues are filtered so that everyone is on a level playing field. And for some, it's mentally not even talking to other people, or they would be more nervous. They type, responses show up. Whether those responses are people or bots or such is irrelevant. It's not personal contact and could be anyone anywhere or maybe nobody at all, so it doesn't trigger the same anxiety as being there in person.

      Another aspect of Asperger's is that it is a spectrum disorder. That is, someone could have it and actually be indistinguishable from normal by others around them. And some will indistinguishable by those around them from someone with Autism. Those with the "light" version should be quite capable of passing themselves off as "normal" and those with the "heavy" version would have more trouble with it. That those with "light" Asperger's are trying hard to demonstrate normality is irrelevant to the ability of those with "heavy" Asperger's to do the same.

      • by Myu (823582)

        +1, but I'm not convinced that your point about computers is "a good thing" per se. Computers are tremendously enabling for people with Aspergers, and I don't doubt that it gives people independence and self-governance in a way that is life-affirming and incredibly positive. The problem is that this very enabling is what creates social fragmentation.

        Externalising the way we interact with the world is great when we externalise correctly. However, the epistemic gap to the world is always very difficult to bri

        • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @08:17AM (#36575386)

          Computers are tremendously enabling for people with Aspergers, and I don't doubt that it gives people independence and self-governance in a way that is life-affirming and incredibly positive. The problem is that this very enabling is what creates social fragmentation.

          I agree with your point. They allow for equal interaction without addressing the underlying issue. Much like chatting would allow a deaf person to interact with others without revealing any limitations. But, because we get people who don't address the spectrum as a spectrum, we get the "it's just Asperger's, everyone has it, just get over it" statements. When there's understanding and acceptance based on that (which would be little to none), it will encourage others to not even try. But if there was a permanent crutch, then there'd be little incentive to try to integrate. But again, as with the deaf community, they often deliberately segregate themselves and cause social fragmentation. But people don't fault them for it like they do people with Asperger's.

          Since 80% (or so, depending on who you talk to) of communication is non-verbal, it could even be argued that the deaf people have a better chance of integrating with society than those with Asperger's, but yet they often segregate without complaint. But someone with Asperger's who tires of the work required to play in a society they don't fit in is considered a lazy quitter. It's that level of intolerance of Asperger's (usually promoted most strongly from those who have or think they have a mild form of it) that drives even more to give up because they just can't do it as easily as those who say they have it have done, so they must be doing something wrong. And there are very few resources for those with it (and many more for those who are parents of those with it). The general answer is "just deal with it."

    • by DrXym (126579)

      So what if he has Asperger? Are the lawyers implying that he is less responsible for his acts due his condition? Clearly they do not know anything about Asperger's syndrome and in fact are offending people with this kind of syndrome, this simply infuriates me, people with Asperger around the world are trying HARD to demonstrate that they can behave as normal as anybody else and this lawyers come with this just to save this guy's Ass, thats plain irresponsible!

      Well yeah, that's more or less what the lawyers are implying. And it should be given the weight it deserves - very little. Aspergers does not mean someone cannot tell right from wrong and therefore they should have little excuse under law for their actions. The guy knew full well what he was doing and if the charges are proven then he gets shoved in some US prison then it will be 100% his own fault. One would think that someone with agrophobia would think better than to break the law given the potential con

  • by phayes (202222) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:54AM (#36574950) Homepage
    Gary McKinnon based much of his appeal to be exempted from extradition to the US on Aspergers & failed. Aspergers makes people mal-adapted to much of society but does not affect their comprehension of right/wrong & so is irrelevant.
    • by Goose In Orbit (199293) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @07:22AM (#36575208)

      ...except...

      a) He hasn't failed to be exempted from extradition - it's still being looked at by the Home Office
      b) He's not asking for a "get out of jail free" card - it's about being tried (and, if found guilty) imprisoned in the UK rather than the US
      c) The "Aspergers defence" only arose - some years after the event - because Simon Baron-Cohen saw an interview with him and suggested he may be suffering from the condition

      • by phayes (202222)

        A) True, waiting to see how it will turn out as well. Maybe McKinnon & the lulzsec guy will share the plane ride or maybe Obama wants McKinnon to fade away. Extraditing the lulzsec guy without getting closure on McKinnon is almost certainly not going to happen so we may learn fairly quickly.
        B) Much ls to be said for being tried in the country where the crime has taken place rather than where the person was when it was comitted. If the UK decides on the second point predominating they will be surrenderin

    • by hitmark (640295)

      Right and wrong is sadly not set in stone. As such, if one is of the belief that the targets one attack is corrupt, or in other ways can envision oneself as a kind of robin hood figure, then in ones own eyes one is doing right. And Asperger "sufferers" may build up a fantasy world as a coping mechanism.

      • by phayes (202222)
        As do others who do not have Aspergers. Again, aspergers is not a "get out of jail free" card
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @07:53AM (#36575306)
      The issue for extradition wasn't an insanity plea, but that he had a diagnosed condition that the US would not recognize or treat. The US stance is "You are sentenced to prison, buy yourself some lube and deal with it, we want to make sure that you hate life so much that if you aren't a bad person when you enter, you will kill yourself or be a bad person when you leave." And that's pretty much on par with the worst prison systems on the planet, with the conditions being more hygienic, but no more safe. And I'd make any argument possible to serve time anywhere else in the civilized world other than US prisons.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @06:03AM (#36574980) Homepage
    This must be some new variant which only strikes when the Lulz stops and you're sniffing and blubbering in the cells.
    • And they'll get it out of him one way or another. It looks to me like they have taken the gloves off. He will probably have it as bad if not worse than Bradley Manning.

  • by mseeger (40923)

    Well, concerning the judgement of his guilt (wether or not he has done the deed accused), this should have no influence. When deciding about the amount of punishment required, this has to be taken into account. But this SOP for every court. Asperger is far from being incapable of distinguishing right from wrong.

    But i also think, that if he was in Britain while comitting those alleged crimes, he should be tried there. I think this is, what is troublesome with this case. The rest is pure window dressing.

    CU, M

  • Oh c'mon, all hackers have some form of autism. The two go together. But just because they are autistic, doesn't mean they have no self-control, self-awareness enough to not be jailed. One thing is being an out-of-your-mind delusional serial killer with torn sense of reality and a heap of issues as a result of I dunno, destroyed childhood and systematic abuse, and another a spoiled kid knowingly hacking around. It's a safe bet he knew what he was doing, the way normal people know things, not the way autists

  • What a load of BS. Someone with Asperger's can perfectly tell right from wrong. They may not be able to pick up *social* clues, but there is nothing wrong with their sense of right and wrong other than that it sometimes is a bit more rigid than socially acceptable.

    Trying this sort of BS is not going to help with his defense, but may harm others who are trying to lead a normal life.

    Don't do the crime if you cannot do the time.

  • I have some troubles with Asperger's myself, yet I still can tell the difference between right and wrong. What is this, the "waah, waah, I'm a victim" defense?
  • Its pretty common now to hear many crimes that the defendant didnt really intend to do - it was just a medical condition. Tony Weiner calims to have gone into meidcal rehad, and so on. Few people are ever responsible for their actions anymore.
  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @12:14PM (#36576694)

    My son has Asperger's. He seems to be able to refrain from criminal activity.

    I think anyone who has Asperger's would be pretty pissed off by this moronic defense attorney trying to imply that their condition has anything to do with the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

    • by PPH (736903)
      I agree. My psychologist friends advise me that it may have some bearing on how to conduct punishment and/or treatment. But it doesn't excuse responsibility for the act.
    • I for one would like to use it as a defense should I ever get into trouble.

      I'm pissed they are calling us Autistic when its far from proven and the two are separated in the DSM. There may be no actual connection between the two. I have autistic relatives and there are more traits they have from their parents than in common with me.

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