Lauri Love Loses Extradition Fight Over U.S. Hacking Charges

  • London judge says Love must be sent to America to stand trial
  • Love accused of hacking into U.S. government computer servers

Lauri Love, a U.K. computer activist accused of hacking into U.S. government computers and stealing data, lost his bid to avoid extradition to America to fight the charges.

A London judge said Friday that Love will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial, where he could be jailed for the rest of his life if convicted. The 31-year-old looked crestfallen when the judgment was read out to a media-packed courtroom.

"I am satisfied that the very strong counter balancing factors required to find extradition would be disproportionate are not found in this case," said Judge Nina Tempia in the ruling. "I accept Mr Love suffers from both physical and mental health issues but I have found the medical facilities in the U.S. prison estate on arrival and during any sentence," could meet his needs.

Love was arrested in the U.K. in 2013 and accused by the U.S. of stealing “massive amounts” of confidential data from government agencies and departments including the U.S. Army and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. At his extradition hearing in June this year a court heard how Love, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, could be a suicide risk if he was extradited.

The case is the latest in a number of high-profile disputes over extradition to the U.S. Navinder Sarao, the British trader accused of helping to cause the 2010 flash crash, is set to appeal an extradition ruling against him at a U.K. court next month. U.S. prosecutors allege Sarao made as much as $40 million spoofing the CME Group Inc.’s stock futures market over four years.

Love’s case is akin to that of Gary McKinnon, who also has Asperger’s and was accused of hacking into U.S. military computers. McKinnon, who had the same lawyer as Love, ultimately avoided extradition in 2012 after then-Home Secretary Theresa May said there was "such a high risk of him ending his life" it would be against his human rights to send him to the U.S.

While Sarao also has Asperger’s, the U.K. Home Secretary no longer has the power to intervene in such cases.

The wrath of the U.S. government for accessing and distributing confidential files has been much debated over the last few years after Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor exposed U.S. surveillance secrets. Snowden is living in exile in Russia. The case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published a number of U.S. secret documents, has also been in the limelight. Assange has been living at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 out of fear he would be sent to the U.S. if he left.

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