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Suffolk: Lawyers will fight extradition of man charged with hacking US government computers

18:46 28 February 2014

Lauri Love

Lauri Love

Lawyers for a Suffolk man charged with hacking into US government computer servers say they will “vehemently oppose” any attempt to extradite him from the UK to face prosecution.

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Lauri Love, 28, is accused of breaking into Federal Reserve computers, it was revealed yesterday, and had previously been accused of accessing other systems including those of the US army and Nasa.

Today, his solicitor, Karen Todner, said Love is also under investigation by the UK National Crime Agency and should stand trial in Britain if charges are brought by authorities here.

She said: “The United States have preferred an indictment against Mr Lauri Love. Mr Love is presently under investigation by the e-crime unit of the National Crime Agency. We hope that all matters will be investigated and concluded within the UK where Mr Love has lived all his life and remains.

“If there is an extradition request from the United States it will be vehemently opposed. We believe that if Mr Love is to face charges that they should be, and will be, in the UK.”

Yesterday, an indictment was revealed at Manhattan federal court under which Love was charged with computer hacking and aggravated identity theft over allegations that he hacked into the US Federal Reserve’s server.

The offences carry a potential penalty of up to 12 years in prison, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said.

US Attorney Preet Bharara claimed Love was “a sophisticated hacker who broke into Federal Reserve computers, stole sensitive personal information, and made it widely available, leaving people vulnerable to malicious use of that information”.

It is claimed the offences date from October 2012 to February 2013 when Love tried to secretly infiltrate the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s computer servers in order to steal non-public information and then post that information on certain websites.

Love, of Stradishall, Suffolk, allegedly worked with “other hackers around the world to gain access”. They were trying to target a software programme which “contained a vulnerability” in order to break in to the servers, it was claimed.

In October 2012, according to the indictment: “Love used his unauthorised access to locate and steal certain confidential information residing on the Federal Reserve servers, including the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of users of the Federal Reserve computer system. Love then disseminated that information publicly by posting the information to a website that previously had been hacked and that he controlled.”

George Venizelos, head of the New York office of the FBI, said: “Cyber-crime knows no boundaries and justice will not stop at international borders.”

The US authorities previously said Love was charged with hacking into thousands of American computer systems including the US army, Nasa and other federal agencies.

He is accused of breaching the systems to steal “massive quantities” of confidential data, resulting in millions of dollars of losses. He was arrested by officers from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) under the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) in October last year and later charged by US authorities in New Jersey.

Under the CMA, individuals can be arrested for launching attacks from within the UK against computers anywhere in the world.

He and co-conspirators - believed to be in Australia and Sweden - allegedly created “back doors” into government networks, allowing them to return to get data.

Love has taken part in protests for Occupy, the global “anti-greed movement” and his father, Alexander Love, 60, a Baptist minister, works as a chaplain at HMP Highpoint North. His mother, Sirkka-Liisa Love, 59, also works at the jail as a teacher.

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