The British student, Lauri Love who has been accused by Washington of hacking into US government computers has today won his appeal against his extradition to the USA where he could face up to 99 years in prison if he was to be convicted.
Mr Love, from Suffolk, was accused of hacking systems of the FBI, Pentagon and the US central bank.
London’s High Court had two judges in session who overturned a previous judgement that he could be extradited, and blocked the extradition based on concerns about his health. Mr Love, 33 , who has Aspergers syndrome, had been facing a potential 99 years , possibly in solitary confinement. His legal team argued that he would be a high suicide risk in the US penal system and this was their basis of battling against the extradition proceedings.
The case against Lauri Love has been a good test for new rules in the United Kingdom that allow judges to prevent or block extradition based on either health or human rights grounds. IN a statement, the high court judges said “we have come to the decision that Mr Love’s extradition would in fact be oppressive based on his mental and physical condition’.
They followed this by saying they supported the prosecution of him for his crimes by the UK judicial system. This High Court ruling comes after almost two years of campaigning by human rights actitivists. Mr Love stated “I am very relieved I am not going to be facing the prospect of being jailed for the rest of my days in a country I have never even been to”
“If this ruling can help someone else from not suffering this same ordeal then that would be brilliant”.
The accusations from the USA stem from 2012 and 2013 when the US government accused Mr Love of breaking into multiple agencies including the US military, DOD, Nasa, FBI and federal reserve where he was accused of downloading and stealing large amounts of information.
When Theresa May was home secretary in 2013, she introduced a policy called a “forum bar” which was after the attempt by the USA to extradite another computer hacker, Gary Mckinnon for accusations relating to the hacking of US government systems. Mr Mckinnon also has Apsergers syndrome and that formed a significant part of his case.
The forum bar allows defendants to fight to be tried in the UK if that is the location where their alleged crime was committed from.
Mr Love’s lawyers in the latest case said that their clients history of depression would mean he was at a high risk of suicide if he was extradited to face trial and prison in the US and they also said the mental health provisions in the USA were not adequate. His lawyers at Kaim Todner said “this was a landmark judgement , not merely because it’s the first time the forum bar has been argued successfully, but additionally because it is a rarity that the UK courts have discharged a requested defendant on a US extradition request”
The UK Crown prosection Service which argued for the US government for Mr Love’s extradition said “We will now consider the High Courts judgement on Lauri Love before making any further decisions”.