Today the High Court decided that Lauri Love should not be extradited to the US to face hacking charges, sparking celebrations and applause in the courtroom. The 32-year-old, who suffers from serious health issues faced a prison sentence of up to 99 years if delivered to the US. The court hearing today was attended by a group of his supporters and media.
Leaving the court, Laurie said: “I hope this sets a precedent for the future for anyone in the same position that they will be tried here. We are hopeful that other people will be able to rely on this.”
The computer scientist from Stradishall has a long history of political activism, playing a prominent role in the student and Occupy movements in Glasgow during 2011- 2012.
Love had been fighting his extradition to the US since 2016. He is under indictment in District of New Jersey, Southern District of New York and Eastern District of Virginia. As of 2016, the United States is trying to extradite him to America to face charges. He is accused of allegedly working with others to hack the US Federal Reserve, US Army, US Department of Defense, the Missile Defense Agency, Nasa and the FBI Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, as part of an online protest against the death of internet pioneer Aaron Swartz: an American computer programmer, political organizer, and hacktivist who committed suicide in 2013 while under federal indictment for his alleged computer crimes.
During the extradition appeal commenced today, Love’s defence team argued that he would face ‘medieval conditions’ in the US federal prison system if the extradition went ahead and that instead he should be tried in the UK.
Last November, the court heard from human rights group Liberty, who said ‘If someone is accused of having committed a crime here in the UK, this is where they should stand trial.’
Furthermore, former top prosecutor Lord MacDonald told the court that extradition in this case is not the norm, and that Lauri Love has been singled out for particularly harsh treatment. MacDonald said:
I have been asked to comment on practice in relation to the prosecution of computer hackers who target United States computer systems from the United Kingdom. In my experience, there has been a general practice of prosecuting such hackers in the UK in the majority of cases.
The notable exception was Gary McKinnon, whose extradition was eventually halted by the Home Secretary. The Schedule reflects the policy bias to which I have referred above, demonstrating the fact that almost all such cases have historically been dealt with by English or other relevant local courts abroad. This seems particularly to occur in the case of vulnerable defendants. Again, there appear to be sound and obvious policy grounds for a particular bias towards prosecuting vulnerable defendants locally, where it is possible to do so.
Lauri would have been the first Briton to be extradited for alleged hacking offences in the US. The verdict was also a key test case for the forum bar, introduced by Theresa May back when she was home secretary, following Gary McKinnon’s 10-year battle against extradition, to give vulnerable defendants protection against it.
Image: Free Lauri Love