ENGLAND – The Queen of England herself, Queen Elizabeth II granted a Royal pardon for internationally acclaimed British codebreaker and computer scientist Alan Turing. Turing took his own life in 1954 after being convicted two years prior of having consensual sex with a 19-year-old male.
The pardon comes a decade after gay activists and straight allies lobbied the British government for a posthumous pardon for Turing saying his conviction of “gross indecency” was an injustice even though gay sex was considered a crime at that time under British law.
“Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War II by cracking the German Enigma code,” The Telegraph newspaper quoted British Prime Minister David Cameron as saying.
Turing is credited for helping to end WWII by cracking the German code and worked with one of Britain’s intelligence agencies. He applied his own research on information processing-considered a forerunner for modern computer science- and devised a way to break the German submarine code they used to attack and sink British ships.
After the war, Turing continued his research and is considered to have developed the foundation for high tech devices like our daily cell phones.
British Press reports that Turing was arrested, tried and convicted in 1952 on a homosexuality charge after Turing called the police to inform them the 19-year-old had broken into his house. After being given the choice of imprisonment or hormonal treatment to eliminate his sexual drive and choosing the latter Turing was stripped of his security clearance, preventing him from continuing his code breaking work.
Turing committed suicide two years later by way of cyanide poisoning. An apple was found near his body. There has been some speculation as to if his death was an accident or not, but toxicologists didn’t test the apple at the time to determine if it was laced with cyanide.
The Queen officially put his pardon into place on Aug. 19.
“Now know ye that we, in consideration of circumstances humbly represented to us, are graciously pleased to grant our grace and mercy unto the said Alan Mathison Turing and grant him our free pardon posthumously in respect of the said convictions,” the pardon states.