Lauri Love, the British hacker who was facing up to 99 years in prison if extradited to the US and found guilty of illegally infiltrating US government computer systems, has won his appeal against extradition health grounds. Love has Asperger's and his defence argued that being put in the US prison service could have a serious impact on his physical and mental health - as well as the view that there was no reason for the case not to prosecuted in the UK. He won on both counts.
Although Love was first arrested in 2013 for suspected hacking against US agencies - including NASA, the Federal Reserve and the US Army - there has been a long fight in his case and action was taken against his extradition starting in 2016, however Love had said before that he feared he would not get a fair trial in the US and it has taken until now for the decision to be decided by courts on where his trial would take place and where his punishment, if convicted, will be served.
In an email to SCMediaUK, Nick Vamos, ex head of extradition at the CPS and currently a partner at law firm Peters & Peters commented, “This is a very significant judgment. It is the first case in which the Forum Bar has been used successfully to resist extradition. The court decided that it would not be in the interests of justice for Mr Love to be put on trial in the US due to his close connections to the UK, the likely serious impact on his physical and mental health and, importantly, that he could be prosecuted here in the UK.
“This judgment will mean that US and UK prosecutors will need to be very careful in future about how they decide who should prosecute cases of concurrent jurisdiction. Although the court didn't say that the CPS should have charged Mr Love instead of letting the US prosecute him instead, the judges clearly felt that this was the fairer outcome. Critics who complained that the Forum Bar was toothless should be heartened by the UK court's willingness to prevent extradition even when, as the judgment acknowledged, all the harm allegedly caused by Mr Love's hacking activities was in the US.”
Love still potentially faces an 18-month prison sentence in the UK if found guilty, but he was quoted in the Telegraph newspaper as saying: "It's going to be nice for my family breathe a bit more easily. This legal struggle has defined my life for the last four years. I do happen to have a set of skills and I'm going to devote time to making sure we have an Internet that is open, available to all and free from control."
His father, Reverend Love, described the result as, "A victory for justice and for my family."
The US has 14 days to appeal the decision, during which it could lodge a request for an appeal hearing at the UK Supreme Court.
SC Media UK spoke to Lauri Love (see video below) just after his original High Court extradition hearing when he outlined the grounds for his appeal.