A British student accused of hacking into United States government computer systems will be extradited from Britain, to face trial in America, a judge in London has decided.
Lauri Love, 31, from Stradishall, Suffolk, is accused of hacking dozens of websites, including those belonging to the FBI, the US missile defence agency, the US central bank and NASA. If convicted, Love, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, will face a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison.
Love allegedly committed his cyber crimes between 2012 and 2013 while participating in a “hacktivist” campaign associated with the famed hacking group Anonymous. After breaching critical websites, Love allegedly changed pictures, read communications and downloaded employee contact details.
The extradition request was granted by Westminster Magistrates’ Court, in London. Love was granted bail pending further legal action.
The verdict was met by gasps in the courtroom. Supporters of Love stormed out of the courthouse, shouting “kangaroo court!”
“If you have come for justice then you have missed it,” Love told a gathered press pack.
Karen Todner, Love’s UK solicitor, said she was disappointed by the ruling and would appeal against the decision: first, to the UK high court, and then to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Love’s parents and doctor have expressed concern that Love would be at risk of killing himself, if extradited. But on Friday, Judge Nina Tempia dismissed those concerns: “I accept Mr. Love suffers from both physical and mental health issues, but I have found the medical facilities in the United States prison estate, on arrival and during any sentence if he is convicted available to him, are such that I can be satisfied his needs will be comprehensively met by the US authorities.”
Before any appeals are launched, Britain’s Home Secretary must decide whether or not to authorize Love’s extradition, as requested by the United States. Love’s case is seen as the first substantive test of the so-called “forum bar:” a legal principal that allows British courts to block extradition if it would be in the interest of justice to prosecute someone in Britain rather than abroad.