A judge has ruled that former University of Glasgow physics student Lauri Love can be extradited to the United States of America to face three separate trials for hacking high-profile U.S. agencies including the FBI, NASA, and the Federal Reserve.
31-year-old Love, a political activist with Asperger’s Syndrome, now faces the possibility of up to ninety-nine years in prison for stealing sensitive data alongside accomplices in Sweden and Australia. Despite claiming his form of autism could result in depression or suicide if sent to face trial in the US, he will now be extradited, subject to Home Office approval.
Love dropped out near the end of his second year at Glasgow University citing medical problems. While a student, he took a leading role in the 2011 Hetherington House occupation, which campaigned largely against proposed financial cuts to University courses.
On the Facebook group “No Love for the US” and his fundraising website, those that know him have said, “He was horrified by inequality… he very much wanted to be part of changing that.”
The US Department of Justice has also helped reduce the likelihood of a UK-based trial for Love by refusing to disclose any evidence against the defendant. Love also failed to disclose all of his encryption numbers for the files allegedly stolen. Facing a potential two-year jail term in the UK, the National Crime Agency have yet to actually press charges.
This is the first extradition request of its kind since that of Gary McKinnon, a man also accused of hacking US government agencies. After a decade of fighting extradition, then Home Secretary Theresa May blocked his removal on the basis of his mental health.
This resulted in the creation of a ‘forum bar’ which, according to the Home Office, “can be invoked by a defendant to question whether the UK is in fact the proper place to hear a case”. Although created in 2013, supporters suggest Love will be the first to truly test its impact in the courts.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd does not have to make her decision until mid-November. If the Home Secretary agrees to the extradition, Love will likely appeal which will see this debate continue well into 2017.