Lauri Love is a British computer scientist and activist who, in 2013, was charged with hacking into various United States government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Missile Defense Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The case against Love has been highly controversial, with some arguing that he is being unfairly targeted for his political beliefs and activism.
Love was first arrested in 2013 by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom on suspicion of involvement in a series of high-profile cyber attacks against various US government agencies. The attacks, which were carried out by the hacktivist group Anonymous, resulted in the theft of sensitive data and the temporary shutdown of several websites.
In 2016, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would be seeking Love’s extradition to the United States to face charges of computer hacking and aggravated identity theft. Love and his legal team have fought the extradition request, arguing that he should be tried in the UK, where the alleged crimes were committed.
One of the main arguments made by Love and his supporters is that the extradition request is politically motivated, and that he is being targeted for his activism and political beliefs. Love is a well-known activist in the UK, and has been involved in campaigns for internet freedom and against government surveillance. He has also been an outspoken critic of the US government and its foreign policy.
Another argument made by Love’s legal team is that he would not receive a fair trial in the United States. They point to the fact that Love has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that can make it difficult for him to cope with the stresses of a criminal trial. Love’s lawyers have argued that the conditions in US prisons are not suitable for someone with Asperger’s, and that he would be at risk of self-harm if extradited.
Two judges, Lord chief justice Lord Burnett and Mr Justice Ouseley heard arguments in November that an extradition for Love would not be in the interests of justice.
In particular, the 32-year old suffers from Asperges syndrome, depressive illness and severe eczema. His lawyers said there was a high-risk Love would attempt to kill himself if extradited.
The judges said :
“We come to the conclusion that Mr Love’s extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.
“We accept that the evidence shows that the fact of extradition would bring on severe depression and that Mr Love would probably be determined to commit suicide, here or in America.”
The case of Lauri Love has attracted widespread media attention, and has been the subject of numerous articles, op-eds, and documentaries. Many have argued that Love is being targeted for his activism and political beliefs, and that the extradition request is an attempt to silence him. Others have argued that Love is a criminal who should be brought to justice, and that the extradition request is justified.
Regardless of where one stands on the issue, it is clear that the case of Lauri Love raises important questions about the relationship between activism, politics, and the law. It also highlights the complex and often contentious issues surrounding extradition, and the ways in which different countries approach justice and the rule of law.
Few reactions after the ruling :
The Courage Foundation, which runs the Love’s defense fund, said the case raises concerns about “Britain’s willingness to extradite vulnerable citizens to face life-long jail terms in conditions far worse than would be countenanced domestically.”
Following today’s announcement, Courage’s case direction, Naomi Colvin, said:
“I am absolutely thrilled for Lauri, his family, friends, his legal team and all the supporters who have worked so hard to bring us to this point. As we demonstrated at appeal, Lauri was only ever in this position because he had been marked out for unfair, discriminatory and vindictive treatment.
“With any luck, today’s ruling will mean that prosecuting authorities finally start respecting the clear will of the British public: we do not extradite our geeks to face medieval punishment in the United States.”
Speaking outside the court, Mr Love said he hoped he had set a “precedent so this will not happen to people in the future”.
“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.
“I hope in the future to be able to contribute to a slightly better understanding of the stigma associated with depression.”
His father Alexander Love said: “This is a victory for justice. What makes Great Britain great is that we live in a place with wisdom and compassion.”
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