Alleged Suffolk computer hacker Lauri Love will not be extradited
- Credit: PA
Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love will not be sent to the United States to face trial, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Love, 33, from Stradishall, near Newmarket, is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from US agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the US army, the defence department, Nasa and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.
Authorities in America had been fighting for Mr Love to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking, which lawyers have said could mean a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if found guilty.
At the High Court this morning, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Mr Justice Ouseley announced: “This appeal is allowed and the appellant is discharged.”
The court declared in a written ruling: “We emphasise however that it would not be oppressive to prosecute Mr Love in England for the offences alleged against him.”
The decision to block extradition was met with cheers in the packed London courtroom.
A spokesman for Mr Love’s solicitors, Kaim Todner, said the firm was “delighted” with the result.
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He said: “What is particularly important about this case is that the British justice system has taken the stance that we should deal with the matter ourselves, rather than accept the US government’s demands.
“It has also been recognised that mental health provisions in US prisons are not adequate to satisfy us that Lauri would not have come to serious harm if he were extradited.
“In this instance, the court was very sympathetic to our argument that there was no real reason that a trial could not take place in England, and that the effects on Lauri’s mental and physical health would render extradition highly oppressive.
“This deterioration in health was likely to have meant that he would not have been fit to stand trial and that, therefore, extradition would not have been in anyone’s interests, least of all those of the alleged victims.”
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Love said: “I’m greatly relieved I am no longer facing the prospect of being locked up for potentially the rest of my life in a country I have never visited.
“If this precedent can avoid someone less fortunate having to go through this ordeal then that would make it all worthwhile.”
The 33-year-old, who is studying engineering at the University of Suffolk, said he was looking forward to focusing on his studies and intends to pursue a career in internet security.
He added: “This legal struggle has kind of defined my life for the past four years.
“It is good it has come to a satisfactory and a just conclusion, which expresses the values of compassion and care, but I have other things I want to do.”
Matt Hancock MP for West Suffolk, welcomed the High Court’s decision to accept Lauri Love’s appeal against extradition.
He said: “As his constituency MP, I’ve supported Lauri in his long battle to avoid extradition to the US.
“It has been a long and hard process for him and his loving family and I’m delighted this verdict has been reached.”