Final arguments to be heard next month over fate of bloke who ‘broke into’ FBI boxes
Alleged Brit hacker Lauri Love, who is accused of compromising US government servers and faces extradition to America, has been bailed by a UK court.
US prosecutors want the 31-year-old university student shipped across the Pond for questioning after allegedly infiltrating systems used by the US Federal Reserve, the Missile Defense Agency, NASA, the FBI, the US Army, and healthcare companies. Staff records and credit card details were accessed by Love between 2012 and 2013, it is claimed.
He denies wrongdoing and is fighting to stay in Blighty.
After a two-day extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, District Judge Nina Tempia bailed Love and adjourned the case to a later date when both sides will make their final arguments. Wednesday, July 20 was penciled in as a possible date.
Love was arrested in 2013 and again in 2015 on suspicion of committing computer crime, and has been under police bail.
Love’s lawyers argue his extradition should be blocked under section 83A of the UK’s Extradition Act, which forbids any extradition that “would not be in the interests of justice.”
The court also heard that Love – who lives with his parents in Suffolk, has Asperger’s Syndrome and suffers from depression – would kill himself if extradited. His legal team said, therefore, his extradition should be stopped under section 91 of the 2003 act, which states that an extradition should be halted if “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”
Love is accused of breaking into Uncle Sam’s computers as part of #OpLastResort – the codename for a string of online protests that followed cyber-activist Aaron Swartz’s suicide in 2013.
While cross-examined this morning by US government lawyer Peter Caldwell, Love spoke of his admiration for Swartz and described him as a wunderkind who was “persecuted by the Department of Justice.”
Love’s lawyers had drawn a comparison between their client and Schwartz, who killed himself after he was accused of breaking into a network hardware closet on the MIT campus to download almost five million academic papers.
Love also spoke of his Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis and battle with depression, and scratched his anxiety-triggered eczema while recollecting childhood memories and answering questions about his past relationships.
Caldwell suggested the defense was emphasizing Love’s mental health issues “as a shield in these proceedings,” noting that Love does not actually take antidepressants. Love shot back that he had seen a doctor about his condition, and raised a laugh from his supporters in the public gallery by asking whether he should have taken medical advice from the prosecution counsel instead.
Judge Tempia is expected to make a decision on whether or not to grant America’s extradition request by September. Meanwhile, Love is waiting to get back equipment seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency. ®