Lauri Love is a computer scientist from Stradishall in the UK who has a long history of political activism. He played a prominent role in the student and Occupy movements in Glasgow during 2011-12.
Lauri faced potential extradition to the United States for his alleged involvement in #OpLastResort, the series of online protests that followed the persecution and untimely death of Aaron Swartz. Effectively, he was being pursued by the US criminal justice system for allegedly protesting abuses of that same system, with prosecutors in three US court districts accusing Lauri of hacking into various government websites.
Love was first arrested on 28 October 2013 for alleged offences under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. The National Crime Agency (NCA) seized Lauri’s computers and tried to force him to turn over his encryption keys, but Lauri refused to cooperate and was ultimately released on bail. Nine months later, Lauri’s police bail was allowed to expire and the UK investigation against him appeared to be closed, although the NCA refused to return six devices that they could not decrypt.
Then on 15 July 2015, Love was arrested again by UK officials, this time at the behest of the US government, who had issued several indictments and corresponding extradition warrants. The FBI and Department of Justice allege that Love has been involved in hacking into various governmental agencies, including the US Army, NASA, the Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Lauri Love’s extradition hearing was held on 28 and 29 June 2016, with final arguments held on 28 July. He is also fighting the NCA for the return of his property, in a case which helps shed light on what happened during the initial British investigation.
On 16 September 2016, Judge Nina Tempia ruled in favor of extradition, passing the case to Secretary of State Amber Rudd, who approved the order. Lauri’s legal team then took the case to the High Court, where the Lord Chief Justice issued a landmark ruling in his favour on 5 February 2018. The US has until 16 February 2018 to make an application to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Lauri is increasingly being recognised as an expert on hacking, surveillance and privacy issues in the UK and has made a principled stand against the country’s forced decryption laws. Lauri Love deserves our solidarity and needs all of our support until all the legal threats he faces are resolved.