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WWII code-breaker given rare pardon by the queen

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A man received a rare royal pardon 59 years after his death on Tuesday. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 1952 Alan Turing was convicted of homosexuality and subsequently chemically castrated.

Turing was a code-breaker who worked with the Allied forces during World War II. He played no small role in code-breaking though. He was responsible for cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code, a feat historians have credited with speeding up an Allied victory. His team is also credited with developing one of the first programmable computers.

However, less than a decade following his WWII accomplishment, he was sentenced to chemical castration and kept from doing any kind of security work. Homosexuality was illegal and remained that way until it was decriminalized in 1967 in the United Kingdom.

At the age of 41, Turing took his own life. The campaign to get his sentence overturned has claimed that this sentence overshadowed all of his accomplishments and led to his suicide.

Part of the campaign involved an online petition that gained 37,000 signatures by the end of 2012. Modern scientists such as Stephen Hawking have also spoken in support of an overturned conviction for the accomplished mathematician.

The at-the-time Prime Minister publicly apologized for Turning’s treatment in 2009. However campaigners would not settle for anything less than a pardon.

That pardon was finally granted by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday. British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who said that he sentence he was given is now considered unjust and discriminatory, also stated that a pardon from the queen is fitting as a tribute to an “exceptional man.”


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