We’re just one week away from the start of Lauri Love’s extradition hearing. On Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 June, Lauri’s legal team will be making the case against Lauri being sent to the United States at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
Love is facing potential extradition to the US for his alleged involvement in #OpLastResort, the series of online protests that followed the persecution and untimely death of Aaron Swartz. His case is expected to present the first substantive test of the forum bar introduced into UK law after Gary McKinnon’s extradition was denied by Theresa May in 2012.
May blocked that extradition due to fears regarding McKinnon’s mental health and how he would be treated if sent to the United States. Love, who has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and depression, similarly argues that coercive prosecution, harsh prison conditions and a lack of proper mental healthcare in the US – not to mention the possibility of a 99 year prison sentence – would put him in grave danger.
Among Courage’s beneficiaries are Jeremy Hammond and Barrett Brown, who were both convicted on CFAA counts in the United States. We know exactly how the United States treats hackers in its prisons – just a few days ago Jeremy Hammond was placed in solitary “by mistake.”
Even the last UK parliamentary investigation into extradition arrangements between the US and the UK admitted that “some conditions and procedures in the US may not always be worthy of the tacit approval that extradition implies.”
It’s no wonder then, that when Lauri spoke to the FT, he said he “would rather face a murder charge in the UK than a computer charge in the US because I know at least I would get out in 20 years.”
The presiding judge at Lauri’s extradition hearing will be Nina Tempia, the same judge who in May denied the National Crime Agency’s attempt to “circumvent” existing statutory protections to force Love to surrender his encryption keys.
Lauri Love was first arrested in October 2013 and despite having his computers and other digital media seized and being the subject of an investigation by the NCA, he has never been charged with a crime in the UK.
Explaining the problem of having been investigated in the UK without charge but facing potential extradition to the United States, Lauri has said, “I’m in the awkward position of facing dire consequences for not being guilty enough.”
Love has not been able to see the alleged evidence against him in the United States despite facing 99 years in prison if extradited and convicted on all counts. This is one of many long-standing objections to the UK-US extradition treaty, which has been hugely controversial ever since Gary McKinnon’s long battle against extradition began nearly 15 years ago.
Want to understand more about Lauri’s case? We’ve just published a timeline to help you make sense of it.
How you can help
Over the past few weeks, supporters of Lauri all over the UK have been writing to their MPs to express their concerns about the UK’s lopsided extradition arrangements with the United States and the way this case in particular has been handled. There’s still plenty of time to do that. We summarised some of the arguments here and Mustafa Al-Bassam has made his letter to Harriet Harman publicly available.
We know that Lauri really appreciates people showing solidarity at his court hearings. There’s a Facebook event to connect with others attending the hearing and solidarity actions afterwards.
Meanwhile, if you’re in London on Tuesday night, Lauri will be participating in a Brick Lane Debates event on Hacktivism and Radical Change at the Hive, Dalston. Do come along if you’re in town.