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Home News Brown apologises for treatment of WWII code-breaking hero

Brown apologises for treatment of WWII code-breaking hero

Published on 12/09/2009

London -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a posthumous apology Friday to World War II code-breaker Alan Turing, who committed suicide after he was tried and convicted of being homosexual.

Brown said Turing, who took his own life in 1954, had been treated "terribly," adding that the outcome of the conflict could have been quite different without the code-breaker’s efforts.

Turing, often hailed for his influence in modern computing, was one of the key figures involved in cracking Nazi German codes.

Thousands have signed a petition calling for a formal apology from the government. However, such an apology is not possible as Turing has no known surviving family, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

Writing in the broadsheet, Brown said: "On behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work, I am very proud to say: we’re sorry. You deserved so much better."

"Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes," he wrote. "It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very different. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.”

"In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ — in effect, tried for being gay," Brown added. "His sentence — and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison — was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.