A British hacker has won his appeal against extradition to the U.S. where he was facing up to 99 years in jail for hacking into dozens of computer systems belonging to the FBI, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army.
Lauri Love, who has Asperger’s syndrome and suffers from depression, appealed a 2016 decision to extradite him to the U.S. on the basis that the U.S. prison system was ill-equipped to provide the necessary care, which involves a complex regimen of medication that would be easier to maintain in a U.K. jail.
Love last year said he would commit suicide rather than face the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a U.S. jail cell.
Authorities in the U.S. had been pushing for his extradition since he was first arrested in 2013. He is accused of stealing huge troves of sensitive data during a hacking spree in 2012 and 2013, with lawyers claiming Love faced a jail sentence of up to 99 years if found guilty.
A clearly jubilant Love spoke to reporters outside the High Court in London Monday morning. “Very happy, relieved, very thankful for the High Court, for the judges,” Love said.
Delivering the verdict, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, said: “The extradition will not go ahead.” The decision was greeted with loud cheers and clapping by the packed courtroom, before the judge quickly scolded Love’s supporters:
The High Court upheld both of Love's grounds for appealing against District Judge Nina Tempia's 2016 order for him to be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial were supported.
“We come to the conclusion that Mr. Love’s extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition,” two High Court judges wrote in their ruling on his appeal.
Love has all along claimed he was not trying to avoid justice, saying he is willing to face up to his crimes in a U.K. court — which will now happen.
“The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) must now bend its endeavors to his prosecution, with the assistance to be expected from the authorities in the United States, recognizing the gravity of the allegations in this case,” the judge said.
Love added that he hoped his successful appeal would help “set a precedent” for those in a similar situation.
“I'm hoping that this outcome can contribute to the discussion we are having as a society about how to accommodate people that have neuro-diversity, whose brains are made up in a slightly different way,” he said.
“There is an ongoing problem with people with autism in the justice system — they have actually been debating it in Westminster Hall,” Love said. “I hope in the future to be able to contribute to a slightly better understanding of the stigma associated with depression.”