Alleged hacker Lauri Love has today won his High Court appeal not to be extradited to the USA.
Supporters of Mr Love, 32, from Stradishall, said there was a ‘high risk’ the Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer would harm himself if he was extradited for allegedly stealing data from US agencies, including the Federal Reserve bank, the US army, the Defense Department, Nasa and the FBI in attacks in 2012 and 2013.
He was arrested in October 2013 but faced no UK charges.
Today Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Mr Justice Ouseley permitted Mr Love’s appeal against extradition
But their judgement adds: “We emphasise however that it would not be oppressive to prosecute Mr Love in England for the offences alleged against him. Far from it.
“The CPS must now bend its endeavours to his prosecution, with the assistance to be expected from the authorities in the United States, recognising the gravity of the allegations in this case, and the harm done to the victims.”
But it goes on to say that if he were convicted and jailed, prison in the UK ‘would be significantly different’ for him to in the US.
The judges added: “The support of his family, in particular, would mean that he would be at far lower a risk of suicide in consequence. On the evidence we have seen, his mental and physical condition would survive imprisonment without such significant deterioration, though it would undoubtedly be more problematic for him than for many prisoners.”
Kaim Todner Solicitors’ extradition department, which represented Mr Love, said the importance of the decision went beyond his case.
Its statement said: “This has been a landmark judgment, not just because it is the first time that the Forum Bar has successfully been argued, but also because it is a very rare occasion on which the English courts have discharged a requested person on a United States extradition request.”
The Forum Bar to extradition was brought in in 2013 by then Home Secretary Theresa May. It is a bar to extradition in cases where a substantial part of the alleged criminal conduct occurred in the ‘requested state’, which in this case England, and extradition would not be in the interests of justice.
The statement continues: “What is particularly important about this case is that the British justice system has taken the stance that we should deal with the matter ourselves, rather than accept the US government’s demands.
“It has also been recognised that mental health provisions in US prisons are not adequate to satisfy us that Lauri would not have come to serious harm if he were extradited.”
The Courage Foundation has been supporting Mr Love in his fight and says it will continue to do so.
Courage’s case director Naomi Colvin said after the ruling: “This is the result Lauri and his family have spent four years waiting for.
“This ruling is a massive victory for free expression online, for the fair treatment of neurodiverse people and for those of us who have drawn attention to the dire treatment of hackers and information activists in the United States.
“This ruling will be taken as a comment on the growing international isolation of the US under the Trump administration, and rightly so.
“I am absolutely thrilled for Lauri, his family, friends, his legal team and all the supporters who have worked so hard to bring us to this point.
“With any luck, today’s ruling will mean that prosecuting authorities finally start respecting the clear will of the British public: we do not extradite our geeks to face medieval punishment in the United States.”
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said: “As his constituency MP I’ve supported Lauri in his long battle to avoid extradition to the US. It has been a long and hard process for him and his loving family and I’m delighted this verdict has been reached.”