Lauri Love is a student accused of hacking US government websites – and of course, innocent or guilty, the US government wants him tried on American soil. A UK high court ruling, however, has set a welcome precedent for what happens to UK citizens suspected of hacking by the US government, and blocked his extradition to the US.
His lawyers note that he would be at risk of suicide if he were to have been tried in the US. In his judgment, the lord chief justice Lord Burnett of Maldon said: “It would not be oppressive to prosecute Mr. Love in England for the offenses alleged against him. Far from it. Much of Mr. Love’s argument was based on the contention that this is indeed where he should be prosecuted.
“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, and the harm done to the victims.”
Love said in front of the court after the ruling, “this is not just for myself. I hope this sets a precedent for the future for anyone in the same position that they will be tried here.”
“I am greatly relieved that I’m no longer facing the prospect of being locked up in a country I have never visited. This legal struggle has defined my life for the past four years. I’m not looking forward to be being prosecuted but I think there’s a better chance that it will be done justly and fairly in the UK.”
Love has a good reason to be afraid; his supporters worry that he would be tortured with unending solitary confinement and sentenced to decades in jail – the fate of former whistle-blower Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning after her stint at maximum security and long-term solitary confinement.
Her sentence was only cut short because of an Obama presidential pardon, likely due to widespread popular support for her cause. Having called Manning a traitor, Trump is unlikely to be quite so “forgiving” of a non-citizen.
The head of legal casework at the National Council for Civil Liberties or Liberty for short, Emma Norton, said, “we are delighted that the court has today recognized Lauri’s vulnerability, close family connections to the UK and the potentially catastrophic consequences of extraditing him. This was always a case that could have been prosecuted here and it’s shameful that Lauri and his family have been put through this terrible ordeal.”
Nick Vamos, a solicitor at the law firm Peters and Peters and a former CPS extradition specialist, said: “This judgment will mean that US and UK prosecutors will need to be very careful in future about how they decide who should prosecute cases of concurrent jurisdiction and will have to focus far more than previously on a suspect’s connections to the UK.”
Jullian Assange is doubtless paying close attention to this case.
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