Lauri Love wins right to appeal extradition order

The High Court will hear suspected hacker's appeal against US trials

Lauri Love has won the right to appeal against his extradition to the US, where he faces charges of hacking into NASA, the FBI, and the US Federal Reserve.

The suspected hacker, who has Asperger's Syndrome, could face a sentence of 99 years imprisonment if he stands three separate trials in the US, and a fine of up to $9 million, after being accused of causing millions of dollars of damage in alleged hacks on US government systems.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd ordered his extradition last November after he failed to persuade a judge that he should face the charges in the UK instead, but his legal team filed an appeal, leading to today's ruling at the High Court.

Love said: "Every day you wake up to some good news is a blessing, and we can't take any blessings for granted these days. Good news comes scantly [sic] between crisis and calamity. I'm thankful the High Court have recognised the strength of our grounds for appeal and the great importance of the issues raised by the case.

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"I'm thankful also for the ongoing support and campaigning by family and friends, amongst whom I now include the 114 MPs who signed a letter requesting jurisdiction be ceded to the UK. Now it is for the High Court to join us all in asserting the sovereignty, the values, the justice and humanity of law in the UK."

Love's legal team, Kaim Todner, had argued in the original court hearing that Love would commit suicide if jailed in the US, where seeing family would be more difficult and where medical facilities may not meet his needs - he suffers from acute eczema and severe depression. However, the judge at Westminster Magistrates Court said she was satisfied US prisons' medical facilities were adequate.

A statement from his lawyer, Karen Todner, read: "The reason permission has been granted is that the High Court acknowledge that the grounds raised some issues of great importance.

"We are delighted for this news for Lauri and will continue to do everything we can to ensure prevention of his extradition to the United States of America."

A date for the appeal, which will be heard by the High Court, is yet to be set.

15/11/2016: Home Secretary orders US extradition of Lauri Love

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has ordered the extradition of suspected hacker Lauri Love to the United States, following the loss of his court battle in September.

The hacktivist, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, has been accused of hacking NASA, the FBI and the US Federal Reserve by US authorities.

If he does stand trial in the US, he could face up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $9 million if found guilty.

Love's legal team can submit an appeal within 14 days, which if granted would lead to a hearing set for early 2017.

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"What I'm hoping is that the extradition will be refused, and like anybody else here arrested in the UK, I'll face a trial here and be able to make a case," said Love, speaking to the BBC's Today Programme.

"The problem is that I'm facing 99 years in prison in America where medical experts have testified that there's a serious risk that I'll die," added Love. "So we're kind of hoping the UK government would have tried to stop that. Unfortunately the home secretary's hands were tied."

Love's family believes that his mental health would deteriorate while inside the US prison service and fears he may try to commit suicide. However, Judge Nina Tempia concluded in September that US facilities would "comprehensively" meet his needs.

Sarah Harrison, acting director for the Courage Foundation, which has been providing legal support to Love, said: "I am dismayed to hear that Lauri Love's extradition request has been approved, as this puts him directly in harm's way and fails to protect his human rights."

"The Home Secretary's decision upholds a one-sided extradition treaty that leaves UK citizens without proper protections against the threat of US prosecution," added Harrison.

"The US has ruthlessly persecuted hackers and digital activites for years, and nobody expects that to improve under President Trump. Theresa May set a good example by protecting Gary McKinnon back in 2012. For a Home Secretary in her government now to willingly send a brilliant and vulnerable UK citizen to Donald Trump's America beggars belief."

16/09/2016: Lauri Love loses battle against US extradition

Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love has lost his battle against extradition to the US, where he is accused of hacking into government computer systems and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Love, 31, can appeal against the Westminster Magistrates Court ruling, but not until the Secretary of State has approved his extradition.

US prosecutors accuse Love, who has Asperger's Syndrome, of hacking into the computer networks of the FBI, NASA, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Department of Defense, among others, between October 2012 and October 2013.

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SQL injection attacks carried out by Love and others resulted in him being able to expose the confidential data of US government employees, the prosecutors alleged.

Love's father, Rev Alexander Love, gave evidence that his son's mental state would collapse in the US, away from his family, and that he would attempt to kill himself if sent to a US prison to await three separate trials. Love would prefer to face trial in the UK.

US prosecutors argued that Love was trying to exaggerate his symptoms to professionals to liken himself to Gary McKinnon, another alleged hacker with Asperger's Syndrome, whose successful appeal argued he was a potential suicide risk if transferred to the US to face trial. This argument was challenged by experts' evidence.

Judge Nina Tempia concluded that US facilities would meet his needs, and said: "I am satisfied that the very strong counter balancing factors required to find extradition would be disproportionate are not found in this case. Mr Love faces extremely serious charges for offences of computer hacking.

"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."

The case was the first major test of the "forum bar", revised by then-Home Secretary Theresa May following the McKinnon case in 2013 to give the UK more oversight in extradition cases.

Love will remain on bail in the UK until he can submit an appeal.

Picture courtesy of the Ministry of Justice

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