Lauri Love, a 32-year-old British computer hacker wanted by the FBI, will not be extradited to the United States. The ruling came down today after Love’s attorneys argued that he suffered from depression and was at risk of dying by suicide if he were placed in solitary confinement in the US, a disciplinary tactic seen by most of the developed world as torture.
Love, who holds dual citizenship in the UK and Finland but resides in Britain, was arrested in 2013 for allegedly hacking into sensitive computer systems in the US, including those of the FBI, NASA, and the US Army. Love faced as much as a 99-year sentence in prison if he were sent to the US for trial. Under British law, he now faces something closer to a maximum of 12 years.
During a hearing in November, lawyers for Love cited a study about the unusually high risk of suicide at New York’s Metropolitan Correction Center in Brooklyn and have called the conditions in US prisons “unconscionable” and “medieval.” As The Guardian reports, Love has Asperger’s syndrome along with severe depression, two conditions which both came under consideration during the extradition hearings.
“The way that mental health is dealt with in America is not in any way therapeutic,” Love told the BBC back in September of 2016.
An American expert in the case plainly stated that if Love were sent to America, “his ability to make decisions would be severely compromised,” given the brutality of US jails. The court seemed to agree that Love would suffer needlessly if he were sent to the United States. The alleged hacker will be tried in Great Britain and is currently free on bail.
The crowd in the courtroom reportedly burst out into cheers as the verdict against Love’s extradition was read.
“We are delighted that the court has today recognised Lauri’s vulnerability, close family connections to the UK and the potentially catastrophic consequences of extraditing him,” Emma Norton, head of legal rights group in the UK, said in a statement to the BBC.
“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,” she said.
Authorities have yet to spell out precisely what damage Love is accused of doing to American computer systems aside from saying that he stole the “personal information of users.”
After the judge announced that Love wouldn’t be extradited, he made a statement to the media and expressed hope that it would set a precedent for others facing extradition to America’s brutal prison system.
“This is not just for myself,” Love said. “I hope this sets a precedent for the future for anyone in the same position that they will be tried here. We are hopeful that other people will be able to rely on this.”