Accused UK computer hacker wins appeal against extradition to US

Marie Harrington
February 8, 2018

Mr Love is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from United States agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the U.S. army, the defence department, Nasa and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.

Lauri Love, the British hacker accused of breaking into several U.S. government systems, will not be extradited to the United States.

British judges on Monday rejected a United States request for the extradition of a man accused of hacking into thousands of U.S. government computers in a ruling that could set a precedent for similar pending cases.

At a hearing in November, his legal team said there was a high risk that Love would kill himself if extradited. Twelve months later, the UK's Crown Prosecution Service quietly announced that he had been released from bail.

Love said: "I'm greatly relieved that I'm no longer facing the prospect of being locked up for the rest of my life in a country I've never visited".

Love, who is now free on bail, has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, autism, and exhibits "obsessive behaviors". Far from it. Much of Mr Love's argument was based on the contention that this is indeed where he should be prosecuted.

"We come to the conclusion that Mr Love's extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition", ruled the judges.

Peter Caldwell, representing the USA, made submissions inviting the judges to dismiss Love's appeal.

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The forum bar was introduced in 2013 after the extradition to the United States of Scottish hacker Gary McKinnon was blocked by Theresa May, in her former role as home secretary, or interior minister.

"We are hopeful that other people will be able to rely on this".

Emma Norton, head of legal casework for campaign group Liberty, said she was "delighted" the court had "recognised Lauri's vulnerability, close family connections to the United Kingdom and the potentially catastrophic consequences of extraditing him". Since then, Love has been battling to be tried in the UK.

"There is an ongoing problem with people with autism in the justice system - they have actually been debating it in Westminster Hall".

His extradition was ordered by British Home Secretary Amber Rudd in November past year after he was unable to persuade a judge that he should be tried in the UK.

For his part, Fitzgerald, on behalf of Love, previously told the court: "On a pragmatic level, the very fact of being taken away from England exposes him to a high risk of suicide". However in 2012, then Home Secretary Theresa May blocked the extradition, saying that due to his medical conditions there was a high chance that McKinnon would attempt to commit suicide if sent to a US prison.

Naomi Colvin, of the Courage legal support group, added: "the campaign's slogan has been "a trial at home" - that's what we've been asking for".

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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