Lauri Love’s appeal against extradition to the United States will be heard at the High Court in a one and a half day hearing on the 28th and 29th November. The appeal will be heard in front of a full Divisional Court, but the judges have yet to be announced.
The High Court has granted Lauri Love permission to appeal against his extradition to the United States.
Liberty have also been granted permission to intervene in the appeal. A hearing date has still to be scheduled.
Every day you wake up to some good news is a blessing, and we can’t take any blessings for granted these days. Good news comes scantly between crisis and calamity. I’m thankful the High Court have recognised the strength of our grounds for appeal and the great importance of the issues raised by the case.
I’m thankful also for the ongoing support and campaigning by family and friends, amongst whom I now include the 114 MPs who signed a letter requesting jurisdiction be ceded to the UK. Now it is for the High Court to join us all in asserting the sovereignty, the values, the justice and humanity of law in the UK.
Lauri’s solicitor, Karen Todner said:
The reason permission has been granted is that the High Court acknowledge that the grounds raised some issues of great importance.
We are delighted for this news for Lauri and will continue to do everything we can to ensure prevention of his extradition to the United States of America.
Lauri Love, who has diagnoses of Asperger syndrome, severe depression and antibiotic-resistant eczema, is facing three extradition requests from separate US court districts for his alleged involvement in the online protests that followed the death of Aaron Swartz. His case forms the first substantive test of the forum bar, which Theresa May announced when blocking the extradition of Gary McKinnon, intended to protect vulnerable individuals who could be the subject of legal process in the UK instead.
On 16 September 2016, a District Judge at Westminster Magistrates’ court refused to block Lauri Love’s extradition, despite accepting that he poses a real risk of suicide. Over 100 UK MPs signed a joint letter to Barack Obama in his final month in office, asking that any proceedings against Lauri be allowed to take place in the UK.
Monday 28 November was the deadline given to Lauri Love’s legal team by the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd to file their application for appeal. The initial paperwork has been submitted and the High Court is expected to deliver its decision at the start of the New Year, with an appeal hearing likely to follow in Spring 2017.
Amber Rudd’s decision to approve Lauri Love’s extradition ignored the arguments of his lawyers that extradition would present a life-threatening breach of his human rights, concerns that are shared by more than a hundred British Members of Parliament. In the wake of Rudd’s decision one of the co-authors of the letter, Barry Sheerman, said he was “deeply disappointed.”
The latest developments in Lauri’s case were, as usual, covered extremely widely over UK print and broadcast media, in terms that were sometimes themselves controversial.
Lauri himself appeared on ITV to explain that he likely not face any kind of trial in the United States, since prosecutors intend to coerce him into a plea deal, landing him in prison for years. If he were to insist on a trial, Lauri would be tried in three different US court districts consecutively, which could mean up to a century in jail.
RT broadcast interviews Lauri’s US-based attorney Tor Ekeland, his father Reverend Alexander Love, and Gary McKinnon’s mother Janis Sharp.
The Times says Lauri should not be extradited
As awareness of Lauri’s case grows, the continues to garner support across the mainstream media. On Saturday 20 November The Times became the second UK newspaper – after the Daily Mail – to come out against Lauri’s extradition. In a strongly worded editorial, the paper argued that “It is hard to understand why, having intervened in the case of Mr McKinnon, the prime minister [Theresa May] would not encourage Mrs Rudd to do likewise with Mr Love… It may be that the relevant extradition treaty to is significantly less fair to British citizens than it is to Americans and should be reconsidered or even repealed.”
Letters about Lauri’s case have now been appearing in the Times for a full week. Among those whose letters have been published are Karen Todner, Tor Ekeland, Janis Sharp, Research Autism’s Richard Mills, Courage’s own Naomi Colvin and, today, a joint letter from MPs David Burrowes and Barry Sheerman.
Theresa May’s successor as Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has approved Lauri Love’s extradition to the United States. Love’s legal team now has 14 days to prepare his application to appeal.
Love, who has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and severe depression, faces three extradition requests from separate US court districts for his alleged participation in #OpLastResort, the online protests that followed the persecution and untimely death of Aaron Swartz.
Should the application to appeal be granted, Love’s appeal will be heard in Spring 2017, with possible further appeals to the UK’s Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
Love’s case is widely regarded to be the first substantive test of the forum bar announced by Theresa May when she blocked Gary McKinnon’s extradition in 2012. Last month David Burrowes MP raised the case at Prime Minister’s Questions, asking the Prime Minister whether the forum bar was working as she anticipated.
Sarah Harrison, Acting Director for Courage, said:
I am dismayed to hear that Lauri Love’s extradition request has been approved, as this puts him directly in harm’s way and fails to protect his human rights. The Home Secretary’s decision upholds a one-sided extradition treaty that leaves UK citizens without proper protections against the threat of US prosecution.
The US has ruthlessly persecuted hackers and digital activists for years, and nobody expects that to improve under President Trump. Theresa May set a good example by protecting Gary McKinnon back in 2012. For a Home Secretary in her government now to willingly send a brilliant and vulnerable UK citizen to Donald Trump’s America beggars belief.
I understand that Lauri Love’s legal team will now be preparing their application for appeal. Courage will continue to support Lauri until his safety is assured.
Lauri Love’s legal team had made representations to the Home Secretary prior to her decision, arguing against extradition on human rights grounds, noting that not only had District Judge Nina Tempia accepted that Lauri Love presents a “severe”, “substantial” and “high” risk of suicide back in September, these concerns are shared by 114 Members of Parliament, who have signed a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to rescind Lauri Love’s extradition warrant.
In their representations, Lauri’s legal team had noted that diplomatic approaches are not unheard of in extradition cases. The Home Office has responded to these concerns by stating that the Home Secretary has no discretion to respond and that “these are matters for the courts.”
More than 100 MPs signed a letter calling on US President Barack Obama to withdraw the extradition requests for Lauri Love. Approximately a fifth of eligible Parliamentarians signed the letter, across the political spectrum, with 113 MPs total.
The letter drew international attention, including video coverage from the BBC and ITV, and an editorial note (right) in addition to a full story in the Daily Mail.
Lauri Love’s extradition decision currently rests with Home Secretary Amber Rudd. If she decides that extradition should go ahead, Love’s legal team can apply to appeal with the High Court, and have indicated they will take the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
BBC Look East
First appearing in the Daily Mail, the story was quickly picked up by the BBC, ITV, the Telegraph, Sky News, Premier Radio, the wire services Press Association and Reuters, international outlets including RT, and more local press, including Yorkshire Post, Herald Scotland, and Lancashire Telegraph.
Coverage in the tech press
Given the implications of Lauri’s case’s for tech laws, from forced decryption to the American Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and digital civil disobedience, the tech press has covered it extensively.
As of Wednesday 26 October, 114 British MPs have signed the letter, which will now be sent to President Obama, the US ambassador in London and his British counterpart in Washington.
With the addition of the 9 extra signatures, 42 Labour MPs, 41 Conservative MPs, 25 MPs from the SNP, 3 Lib Dem MPs and one each from the SDLP, Greens and Plaid Cymru have now declared their opposition to Lauri’s extradition.
A cross-party coalition of 105 backbench Members of Parliament have signed a letter asking US President Barack Obama to withdraw the extradition requests for British activist Lauri Love before he leaves office.
One week ago Lauri Love’s case was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions by David Burrowes MP. Lauri’s case, and the inadequacy of Theresa May’s forum bar, is now firmly on the Parliamentary agenda.
David Burrowes is one of a cross-party group of MPs who are now campaigning for Lauri in Parliament. Along with Labour’s Barry Sheerman and Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael, he has written a letter to President Obama, asking for the extradition warrant to be withdrawn.
The letter will be sent this Friday 21 October. Eight additional MPs have already added their names to it – the more, the better. Please ask your MP to add their signature to David Burrowes’ letter.
If you don’t have your MP’s email address, you can find it by entering your postcode on the TheyWorkForYou homepage.
Lauri Love’s case has now been raised directly with the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who as Home Secretary blocked Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the United States.
In a full-page interview in today’s FT, Lauri Love says governments and corporations must rethink their approach to hackers: instead of criminalising all hacking activity, they should differentiate between serious damage and security testing, which should not only be allowed but encouraged.
“When you damage a system, when you trespass, when you interfere with business operations — that is a crime and should remain defined as a crime,” Love says. “But the priority of the state shouldn’t be to try to frighten people into not testing security, we need security to be tested.”
This is far more socially useful, he argues, than locking these people away. Lauri explains that hackers are often those who otherwise struggle to fit in socially. Even the NCA, the UK government agency that arrested in Lauri in October 2013, have admitted that there is a connection between “cybercrime” and autism that merits further examination.
Moving on from simply identifying the issue, the work Lauri has done at security startup Hacker House has helped develop a route into hacking for the social good, meeting the needs of the hackers who have developed their skills through non-traditional routes and those whose security they test.
A lot of the mental make-up that can make you quite good at analysing computers and information systems tends to manifest with problems of social adaptiveness. People can find that they have trouble concentrating at school or problems with behaviour and authority.
They don’t have the availability and means of getting into doing cyber security and developing their skills in the appropriate safe environment in a constructive way.
“The [hacking] underworld doesn’t care how well-dressed you are or whether you can maintain eye contact. They just care if you have the skills.
Successive UK governments launched initiatives to increase the country’s cyber skills capacity. Love points out that not only do talented, cognitively different, individuals fare badly under the criminal justice system at present, the current situation also has ramifications for the UK’s security and competitive advantage.
Noting that it simply isn’t tenable to attempt to eradicate hacking altogether, Love explains that “Even if you can scare all the people in the UK into not testing your security, that doesn’t affect the people that live somewhere where you don’t have extradition arrangements.”
Love awaits word on his own extradition from UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who is expected to announce her decision before mid-November. District Judge Nina Tempia passed the decision to Rudd, ruling in favour of extradition, despite acknowledging Lauri’s serious mental health issues and high suicide risk.
Read the full FT piece here.
UK District Judge Nina Tempia’s ruling to extradite British activist Lauri Love drew global press coverage, in addition to reporting from the full gamut of British media, as international audiences have taken an increasing interest in Lauri’s case.
Lauri Love, his UK solicitor Karen Todner, and Lauri’s father Rev. Alexander Love speak outside of courtroom after Judge Tempia handed down her ruling:
Lauri’s US lawyer, Tor Ekeland, speaks to Luke Rudkowski outside of the courtroom:
Ekeland also spoke to LBC Radio:
and to BBC Radio Somerset:
Before the ruling, Janis Sharp, the mother of Gary McKinnon, whose similar case and halted extradition led to the establishment of the forum bar, spoke to BBC Radio 4 and wrote an op-ed for the Guardian, arguing “Extraditing Lauri Love would be cruel. Justice must be done in the UK.”
Sharp also appeared on the BBC talking about Lauri’s case and the stress it puts on him and his family:
ComputerWeekly produced a lengthy, in-depth video featuring an interview with Lauri and an overview of his case.
Politicians speak out
As the extradition request has been passed to UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, British politicians in several parties are voicing their concerns about what sending Lauri to the US would mean for the forum bar and the UK-US extradition treaty.
Liberal Democrats quickly implored Home Secretary Rudd to “urgently intervene” and halt Lauri’s extradition, because “UK should not ‘put helping America to save face’ ahead of the well-being of its citizens,” Press Association reports.
Labour MP Barry Sheerman spoke about the dangers of autistic people getting ensnared by the justice system:
Unless this is addressed I fear more and more young people who should not be part of the criminal justice system and should not get a criminal record will unnecessarily get involved in illegal activity and get a criminal record.
The UK Pirate Party issued a press release opposing extradition. Spokesperson Mark Chapman said,
Lauri Love and the USA both deserve justice and so far we have every indication that justice is not what will happen if Lauri is extradited to the USA. The alleged crimes are serious but the best chance for the truth to come out and justice obtained lies in a fair trial, not in a plea deal to reduce a lengthy stay in a US prison.
You can write a letter to your own MP, urging support for Lauri and opposition to the unjust extradition.
Edward Grange, an extradition expert at Corker Binning legal firm, told Ars Technica UK that he believes the forum bar’s protections are “illusory.”
Grange added, “As far as I am aware, since it came into effect in October 2013, no one has succeeded in barring their extradition by reason of forum. Love has four weeks from today to make representations to the secretary of state [Rudd].”
Solidarity from Muslims over unjust extradition
In a piece for Islamicate, Sameer Mallick recalled Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan’s extradition to the US from the UK, which “galvaniz[ed] Muslims to campaign against our lop-sided extradition treaty with the United States.”
Mallick laments the movement’s focus on the individuals rather than the principle of unjust extradition more broadly, and he encourages fellow Muslims to show solidarity with Love:
For those of us who are interested to show that true faith-based activism, we must be concerned with the injustice itself rather than affinity with the sufferer. There is still time to add our weight to Love’s campaign, ‘No Love for the US’. Home Secretary, Amber Rudd has the final say and should she refuse to listen, her decision is also open to legal challenge. Let’s prevent this man suffering the same injustice that Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan once experienced.