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Alan Turing: Scientists call for pardon for codebreaker

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posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 05:38 AM
Alan Turing: Scientists call for pardon for codebreaker

Some of Britain's leading scientists have called on the government to grant a posthumous pardon to Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing.

Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after acknowledging a sexual relationship with a man.

Professor Stephen Hawking, Astronomer Royal Lord Rees and the Royal Society's Sir Paul Nurse are among 11 signatories to a letter in the Daily Telegraph.

They urge David Cameron to "formally forgive this British hero".

The scientists said: "We write in support of a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era.

"He led the team of Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park, which most historians agree shortened the Second World War.

"Yet successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual, which led to his suicide, aged 41."

The government rejected a call to pardon Turing in February, when it was presented with an online petition with more than 23,000 signatures.


Alan Turing's cyber-legacy praised by GCHQ chief

GCHQ director Iain Lobban has said there were "enduring lessons" to be drawn from the work of Alan Turing.

In a rare public speech the intelligence agency chief said there were "many parallels between the way we work now and the way we worked then".

Based at Bletchley Park, the mathematician was part of the team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code - a vital part of the allied war effort.

He is now widely recognised as a computing pioneer.


"The fact that Turing was unashamedly gay was widely known to his immediate colleagues at Bletchley Park: it wasn't an issue," he said.

"I don't want to pretend that GCHQ was an organisation with twenty-first century values in the twentieth century, but it was at the most tolerant end of the cultural spectrum."

Later in his life Turing was convicted of gross indecency after an affair with another man. He was subsequently obliged to take injections of female hormones in an effort to dull his sex drive.

After his arrest he was no longer given an opportunity to carry out work for GCHQ.

Mr Lobban said "we should remember that the cost of intolerance towards Alan Turing was his loss to the nation".

More information about: Alan Turing

Alan Turing was born on 23 June, 1912, in London. His father was in the Indian Civil Service and Turing's parents lived in India until his father's retirement in 1926. Turing and his brother stayed with friends and relatives in England. Turing studied mathematics at Cambridge University, and subsequently taught there, working in the burgeoning world of quantum mechanics. It was at Cambridge that he developed the proof which states that automatic computation cannot solve all mathematical problems. This concept, also known as the Turing machine, is considered the basis for the modern theory of computation.


In 1952, Turing was arrested and tried for homosexuality, then a criminal offence. To avoid prison, he accepted injections of oestrogen for a year, which were intended to neutralise his libido. In that era, homosexuals were considered a security risk as they were open to blackmail. Turing's security clearance was withdrawn, meaning he could no longer work for GCHQ, the post-war successor to Bletchley Park.

He committed suicide on 7 June, 1954.

Alan Turing - Wikipedia

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (play /ˈtjʊərɪŋ/ TEWR-ing; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), was a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, giving a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer.[1][2][3] Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.[4]


Since 1966, the Turing Award has been given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery for technical or theoretical contributions to the computing community. It is widely considered to be the computing world's highest honour, equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

Again, from the initial source top of the page

The government rejected a call to pardon Turing in February, when it was presented with an online petition with more than 23,000 signatures.

Alan Turing should be pardoned, argue Stephen Hawking and top scientists - Eleven signatories call on David Cameron to exercise his power and formally forgive the Enigma codebreaker

Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker who was convicted of homosexuality in 1952, should receive a posthumous pardon, Professor Stephen Hawking and other leading scientists have urged.


The letter describes Turing as "one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era", and pays tribute to his "astonishing achievement" in breaking the German Enigma code.

"Yet successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual," the letter continues. "We urge the prime minister to exercise his authority and formally forgive the iconic British hero."

In 2009 Gordon Brown, the then prime minister, made a posthumous apology to Turing, describing his treatment as "appalling". But he was not officially pardoned.

A previous appeal for a pardon was turned down by the Coalition in February. Lord McNally, the justice minister, said the case was "shocking" but a pardon was "not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence".

Shame. Shame on England at this situation that successive governments who twist, bend and break their own rules, who lie cheat and steal from the public then appear teary-eyed to beg forgiveness for the moment of madness when they accidentally betrayed the trust bestowed upon them leave this situation as it is, as corruption festers in this rotten government still refusing to admit the depth of culpability regarding the recent News International scandal.

Alan Turing a true jewel in England's crown, a genuine hero to the nation who's achievement should be lauded by his countrymen stands as a shamed deviant. Who in government can even hope to offer not only this nation but mankind anything approaching Turing's legacy? And yet...

Your actions are an embarrassment to all English men and women. Hang your heads and turn away, you are despicable.
edit on 14/12/12 by JAK because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 06:00 AM
This is a no brianer, the guy was murdered by the British government because he was gay, such a shame he had so much to give to the world. By the time he died i spose he did, his findings in maths did a lot more after he died than when he was alive.

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 12:43 PM
I would totally support such a pardon.

I sometimes wonder how dreadful it must have been for a true genius to be placed under the care of misguided pseudoscience, with no outlet to complain, because it was already considered the "humane" option.
I think Turing grew breasts because of the hormone "therapy" at some stage.

His death was touchingly bizarre.
A cyanide-laced piece of apple was found on the scene, which some attribute to his apparent fascination with a 1937 Disney version of Snow White.

Some doubted it was suicide, and that his hormone therapy had been stopped at the time, and that he bore this with "good cheer" (which sounds like a dreadful British euphemism).
I think that he felt he had fought for a free and just society, and his troubles began when he reported a 19-year-old lover to the police for burglary.
He made the terrible mistake of assuming (perhaps a bit like Oscar Wilde) that justice existed for gay people at the time.
This was the time when gay survivors of the Nazi death camps were sent back to the same camps (now under "democratic" or socialist rule) to complete their sentences, and many had to lie about why they were imprisoned.
It would remain a disappointing world for gay people, at least in any legal sense, for decades more.
In that sense, expecting equal service from the police was probably an act of bravado or stupidity.

Of course he could have been assassinated.
His privileges on secret knowledge were revoked after his trial, and the blackmail of gay KGB double-agents caused panic about homosexuality in the secret service ranks.
Especially homosexuals who were no longer happy to be closeted (and knew of others in the system) could be seen as dangerous, and their potential to cause major scandal if too outspoken could be profound.
In fact, controversially some historians believe this could be one reason why the Nazis turned violently homophobic, even against non-political gays shortly after they came to power.
The gay scene had the dirt on some of them from the early days of the movement (and thus had to be destroyed). Real evidence for this is lacking, although I'm sure it played a role in some of Hitler's purges.
Some believe Turing's cyanide had to be inhaled rather than eaten, and the apple was placed on the scene as symbolic.

Turing was only 41 when he died.

One wonders what more he could have given to the world, had he lived?

Apparently there has been an apology over his treatment, but no official pardon yet.

In one's late 30s/early 40s I find that one can really notice the effects of aging on the body, and it must absolutely destroy anyone's self-image to not just be chemically castrated, but also to have one's masculine looks so devastated at that age.
Never even mind the sense of personal insult, injustice and rejection.
I think they finished him one way or another, as former Nazis were smuggled into world science without much ado.

Cheers to you Mr. Turing.

edit on 14-12-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)


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