When he was arrested in 2013, UK police confiscated all of Lauri Love’s computers along with other digital devices. The National Crime Agency (NCA) still holds six of Lauri’s items: a desktop computer, two laptops, two external hard drives and a SD card. The NCA has made images of all of these devices, some of which contain encrypted information, but are refusing to return the physical items to Lauri Love nearly two years later. Those disk images have also been shared with law enforcement in the United States.
Today, Lauri Love appeared at Ipswich Magistrate’s Court, initiating a legal action against the NCA to get them to return his property. The NCA initially wanted the case adjourned until after Lauri’s extradition hearing on 7 and 8 April next year, which would have risked precluding Lauri from participating in the case at all. Lauri has offered to allow the NCA to wipe his devices before returning them to him, a suggestion that was initially made by the NCA themselves but one they have withdrawn since the United States made its extradition requests.
In the event, the judge decided to roll Lauri’s civil action in with his main extradition hearing – this is good news as it allows the issue of why a case has not been initiated in the UK to be examined. The “forum bar” introduced into English law after UK Home Secretary Theresa May’s final refusal to allow Gary McKinnon to be extradited to the United States is supposed to prevent cases which could be tried in the UK being the subject of extradition proceedings: this is certainly an issue that will come up in Lauri Love’s hearing in April.
Lauri Love has made a statement welcoming today’s decision:
Success! The district judge at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court has transfered my civil complaint against the NCA to Westminster to be heard alongside my extradition case.
This effectively enjoins the NCA as a party to the extradition proceedings and they will have to explain why they have failed to progress with criminal charges in the UK and how I have ended up being subject to extradition.
So we just now need to ensure the same judge hears both cases and that the right questions are asked.