In a major victory for Lauri Love, the High Court has approved his appeal and quashed his extradition. As Courage Case Director Naomi Colvin said, “This ruling is a massive victory for free expression online, for the fair treatment of neurodiverse people and for those of us who have drawn attention to the dire treatment of hackers and information activists in the United States.”
The High Court judges disagreed with the District Court on whether the forum bar should apply in Lauri’s case and on the prospect of proper medical care to treat the likely risk of suicide should Lauri have been sent to a US prison.
Regarding the forum bar, the judges found compelling the argument that if extradited, Lauri’s mental and physical health would deteriorate such that he could become unfit to plead. The judges also emphasized the absence of an argument from the UK prosecutor as to whether Lauri could be tried in the UK. Where the District Judge found this lack of argument to be neutral, the High Court saw it in Lauri’s favor: “In view of the fact that the CPS did not express any view adverse to the prosecution of Mr Love in the United Kingdom on any of the grounds potentially available to it, this silence is a factor which tells in favour of the forum bar, though it may readily be outweighed by other factors.”
The High Court also significantly departed from the District Judge’s handling of the issue of suicide. The ruling states, “We come to the conclusion that Mr Love’s extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition. In this difficult case, and in the course of an impressive judgment, we conclude that the judge did not grapple with an important issue.”
The judges felt that the District Judge leaned too heavily on testimony to the effect that no prisoner commits suicide while on suicide watch, the US prison’s term for 24/7 monitoring of at-risk inmates. The High Court argued, “Suicide watch is not a form of treatment; there is no evidence that treatment would or could be made available on suicide watch for the very conditions which suicide watch itself exacerbates.”
This ruling marks the first successful use of the forum bar, created in the wake of Gary McKinnon’s case, to protect a UK citizen from being unduly extradited to the United States. It also throws much-needed light on the US prison conditions, so lacking in adequate medical care as to put suicidal inmates at further risk.
Finally, the judges noted that it is now on the CPS to endeavor to try Lauri Love in the United Kingdom. The CPS has 14 days to find new arguments with which to appeal this ruling. Courage will continue to support Lauri Love and his family until his situation is resolved.