Home > Blog

Is Lauri Love’s extradition against his Human Rights?

Lauri Love is a citizen of the United Kingdom who is accused by the United States of hacking into computers owned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Bank and the Missile Defence agency. Lauri is thirty-one and faces extradition to the United States to be tried and if convicted to serve time for his alleged crimes.

Lauri could face up to ninety- nine years in an American prison if found guilty of these crimes. In comparison if Lauri were charged and found guilty of the crimes in the United Kingdom he would only be serving a maximum sentence of two years and eight months. Lauri suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome both he, his parents and his top extradition barristers have voiced concern about his health and have deemed him to be a suicide risk if he is extradited to the United States.

Decisions around extradition are left in the hands of judges and unfortunately approval of extradition to the United States tends to be accepted even when there has been a lack of evidence or the sentence proposed by the federal courts is considered inhumane. The extradition proceedings were a test on the supposed new system for vulnerable people which was issued by Theresa May in 2012 during the extradition proceeding of Gary Mckinnon. Evidently by the decision to allow the extradition we can see that the new system has failed almost instantly.

Gary Mckinnon is a similar case of another English citizen accused of crimes in the United States. After a long legal battle Mckinnon managed to avoid extradition to the United States thanks to the help of his top extradition barristers. Mckinnon was accused in 2002 of one of the biggest military computer hacks after allegedly hacking into ninety-seven United States military and NASA computers. The United States prosecutors bargained with Mckinnon offering a lower sentence and potentially serving some of his sentence in the United Kingdom if he went willingly to the United States. Mckinnon’s top extradition barristers considered this to be a state of intimidation, they were trying to waive Mckinnon’s legal rights for a deal that was not assured.

Mckinnon’s top extradition barristers mounted a number of appeals to his extradition proceeding with most being rejected. The top extradition barristers then applied for judicial review on the Home secretary’s rejection regarding medical evidence. It was argued that Mckinnon could have been tried in the United Kingdom and it was cruel, inhumane and unnecessary to continue with extradition proceedings when his family and medical support are based in the United Kingdom.

In 2012, Theresa May then home secretary announced to the House of Commons that Mckinnon’s extradition was to be blocked. She held that the extradition creates a risk to Mckinnon’s life, they were afraid he would commit suicide and thus subjecting him to this would be incompatible with his human rights. The decision on Mckinnon, who also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome was of great significance. The new rules suggested that those vulnerable people would be able to be tried in the United Kingdom and not have to face the torment of being extradited.

Unfortunately, the court’s ruling on Lauri Love’s extradition suggests that the new rules have already been forgotten. We are witnessing a vulnerable man face extradition to the United States which could potentially see him serve a sentence of ninety-nine years in an American prison. Lauri’s parents have spoken out about how they feel sending Lauri to the United States to face his charges will cause significant damage to his health due to the change of routine which would occur.

American citizens are not extradited to the United Kingdom when the crime they commit even when against the United Kingdom occurs on American soil, they are tried in the United states. The hope was the as British Citizens we too may be tried in the same way. As countries which pride their selves on being reasonable and having a special relationship one would think perhaps we too should be able try those that commit a crime on our own soil too. Not only would it suggest that a real alliance and that we are equals it would also show a true understanding of vulnerable people and the issues that can be caused through upheaval of their lives.

Lauri is not the only computer genius who has ended up on the wrong side of the law. American citizen Aaron Swartz who was involved in the creation of Reddit, was charged in 2011 with grand larceny and unauthorized access to a computer. These two charges which could have seen Swartz spend fifty years in prison and were brought by a state, they were dropped in 2012 in order for a federal court to supersede the indictment and add a further nine charges, increasing his potential sentence exponentially. Top extradition barristers critisised the approach taken stating that it was an overzealous prosecution and that they were overcharging. Swartz sadly hung himself in 2013, his lawyers had tried to negotiate countless plea deals and one had been rejected just days before his suicide.

In the United Kingdom and the United States, we are deemed to be innocent until proven guilty. Even if one is found guilty punishment is not supposed to be of cruel or unusual nature. Extradition for a person like Lauri who has Asperger’s syndrome and needs to keep to a routine, would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Lauri has not been proven guilty, he still needs to be tried by a group of his peers, extradition would be deciding his guilt and punishing him preemptively.

Lauri’s top extradition barristers have not given up yet and are persistent on winning the legal battle in the higher courts and the opportunity that will bring of setting a legal precedent. Lauri’s parents have not given up either but are understandably disappointed with the result and nervous about the effect of another six months in the justice system on Lauri’s health.