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Alleged hacker begins legal battle to retrieve seized computer devices

Alleged hacker Lauri Love has begun a legal battle to try to get his seized computers back  Picture: KIRSTY O'CONNOR/PA WIRE

Alleged hacker Lauri Love has begun a legal battle to try to get his seized computers back Picture: KIRSTY O'CONNOR/PA WIRE

Alleged hacker Lauri Love has begun a legal battle for the return of computers and storage devices seized in 2013.

The Suffolk 34-year-old, from Stradishall near Newmarket, launched the legal bid on Monday.

The hearing at Hendon Magistrates’ Court, in London, began a year after leading judges blocked his extradition to the US on charges of cyber-hacking.

District Judge Margot Coleman said the matter could be heard in public.

But, the judge ordered, only limited details of the hearing can be published.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said there was an ongoing criminal investigation in the UK.

Mr Love, who has Asperger syndrome, is asking for the NCA to return computers and storage devices that were seized in 2013 following his arrest that October.

Although he was charged in the US, he has not been charged with offences in this country and protests his innocence.

In September 2016, a district judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Mr Love, who has who has British-Finnish nationality, could be extradited.

A High Court appeal later centred on that ruling made by District Judge Nina Tempia.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Mr Justice Ouseley announced in February 2018 that: “Mr Love’s extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition”.

Blocking the extradition, the two judges said: “We emphasise, however, that it would not be oppressive to prosecute Mr Love in England for the offences alleged against him. Far from it.”

Authorities in America have been fighting for Mr Love to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking, which lawyers said could have meant a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if found guilty.

Mr Love, who also suffers from a depressive illness and severe eczema, is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from US agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the US army, the defence department, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.

He currently lives with his parents in Stradishall and is studying engineering at the University of Suffolk.

The judge said she will deliver her ruling at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on February 19.

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