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spokesman Alistair Carmichael, he has written a letter to President Obama, asking for the extradition warrant to be withdrawn.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.
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.
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.
Lauri Love outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court, photo by Jason Moon
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.
The three US extradition requests now go to the Home Secretary, but the High Court will be asked to consider Theresa May’s forum bar in due course
Lauri Love and his father speaking outside the courtroom after Judge Tempia’s ruling, photo by Jason Moon
Though Judge Tempia ruled against Lauri Love on Friday, the battle against his extradition and the possibility of life imprisonment in the United States has a long way to run. As Lauri himself said after the ruling, “I thank the judge for giving us an opportunity to win at a higher court and set a stronger precedent.”
Over to you, Home Secretary
Formally, extradition is a matter for politicians in the UK, rather than the courts. Following Judge Tempia’s ruling, the US extradition request will now be sent to the UK’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who can approve or refuse the extradition order. She has until mid-November to make her decision.
As a result of the introduction of the forum bar – the change in the law that conspicuously failed to protect Lauri on Friday, despite the court finding that his medical conditions did present a serious suicide risk – the opinion of most experts is that Amber Rudd’s ability to refuse the extradition order is limited. This does not mean that she should not be made aware of the strength of opinion against Lauri’s extradition to the United States. Politicians from several political parties have already made their concerns public.
Appeal to the High Court
If Home Secretary Amber Rudd approves Lauri’s extradition, his legal team has fourteen days to make their next move. The automatic right to appeal in extradition cases was removed just a month before the US issued an arrest warrant and three months before Lauri was arrested by the Met Police extradition squad in July 2015, so his legal team will have to apply for permission to appeal to the High Court. Given Amber Rudd’s mid-November deadline, Lauri’s legal team will have to make this application by early December at the latest.
Given the importance of Lauri’s case, as the first substantive test of Theresa May’s forum bar, it is likely that permission would be granted and an appeal will be heard in the High Court. A ruling in Lauri’s favour at the High Court could establish the 2013 forum bar as a serious method for redress for those ensnared by the US-UK Extradition Treaty. It’s difficult to say how long this process might take and when any appeal might take place. Karen Todner, Lauri’s solicitor in the UK, has said that the entire process may last at least another year.
This long wait means months of stress for Lauri and his family, who have already spent almost three years living under the shadow of US allegations presented with no evidence. We need to make sure that Lauri’s case stays in the public eye and the British government remains fully aware that sending Lauri Love to the United States would go against the will of the British public, render the assurances of changes to UK-US extradition post McKinnon meaningless and superficial, and put an intelligent, socially conscious young man in extremely grave danger.
What to do now?
If you’re in the UK, the most effective thing you can do is to write to your MP expressing your concerns about what is happening to Lauri. Let them know that Judge Tempia’s ruling has shown the forum bar to be ineffective, even when the person concerned is at as great a risk of harm as Gary McKinnon. Ask for your concerns to be passed on to the Home Secretary as she considers the three American extradition requests.
Once you’ve written your letter, there’s also a petition to Amber Rudd opposing Lauri’s extradition started by supporters, which you can sign and share with those close to you.
As the legal process stretches into 2017, Lauri needs to continue building his legal defence in the US and in the UK, fighting extradition while also preparing for the worst, a multijurisdictional struggle in a system designed to coerce plea deals resulting in prison sentences. Donations to Lauri’s defence fund make a huge difference and you can make yours here.
Love to appeal ruling, says, “If you have come for justice then you have missed it”; Sarah Harrison condemns
Lauri Love outside of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, photo by Jason Moon
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London today, District Judge Nina Tempia granted the United States’ request to extradite British student and activist Lauri Love from the UK. According to Motherboard, Judge Tempia said, “I will be extraditing Mr Love, by which I mean I will be passing the case to the Secretary of State.”
Sarah Harrison, director of the Courage Foundation, which runs Lauri Love’s defence fund and support campaign, responded to the news:
This is a very disappointing ruling, not just for Lauri and his family but for everyone who was angry about what happened to Gary McKinnon. Clear assurances were given that legal changes would prevent the McKinnon situation from happening again and frankly, if the forum bar can’t help Lauri Love, it’s very difficult to understand how it could ever help anyone. This is not what the public was led to believe at the time and it’s not something we should stand for.
I know that Lauri’s legal team will apply to appeal this ruling, and the Courage Foundation will continue to support Lauri until his safety is assured.
Outside of the courtroom, after the ruling was announced, Lauri spoke to the press and public. According to the Guardian, Lauri said, “If you have come for justice then you have missed it.”
Lauri Love addressing press & public outside of court, photo by Jason Moon
I’m not going to comment too much, because I haven’t read [the full ruling], and I have to. I want to thank everyone for their support, and to thank the judge for giving us the opportunity to win at a higher court and set a stronger precedent. I think this only helps the cause of supporting better justice, but it’s unfortunate for me and my family that we have to go through another six months or a year of legal stuff, but it’s what we have to do.
“Lauri is going to appeal through U.K. counsel,” his American counsel, Tor Ekeland, told Vocativ. “Obviously we are all disappointed but this is not over.”
Karen Todner, Lauri’s UK solicitor, told the Guardian, “I feel awfully disappointed. I thought we had done enough. I’m hopeful that the higher courts will consider the human rights issues.” She said the appeal process could take more than a year.
In less than two weeks, at 2pm on Friday 16 September, District Judge Nina Tempia will hand down her ruling on whether Lauri Love should be protected from extradition to the United States, where he faces a potential 99-year prison sentence.
Lauri is the subject of extradition requests from three separate US court districts for his alleged participation in #OpLastResort, the series of online protests that followed the death of Aaron Swartz. Swartz tragically took his own life in January 2013 while facing prosecution under America’s draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and extraordinary pressure to agree to a plea deal.
Over the course of a three-day hearing earlier this summer, Judge Tempia heard evidence on the inadequacy of US prison conditions, coercive plea bargaining, disproportionate sentencing and the discriminatory treatment meted out to hackers in the US justice system.
Changes in the law were made in 2013, in the wake of the Gary McKinnon case to address public concerns about extradition and the severity of conditions for vulnerable British citizens in the United States penal system. It is now up to Judge Tempia to decide whether Lauri should benefit from those protections.
We packed the courtroom for Lauri’s extradition hearings; let’s make sure we do the same for the ruling. The Facebook event is here, and we’re organising a car pool at laurilove.uk.
Can’t make it to Westminster Magistrates’ Court? Spreading the word online makes a big difference. Keep an eye on our live tweets at @couragefound
Lauri is the subject of three separate extradition requests, which is highly unusual
The allegations concern “known vulnerabilities”, which the US government could and should have been aware of.
If convicted on all counts in all three districts, Lauri faces 99 years in a US prison. That is orders of magnitude higher than the longest sentence possible for these offences if they were prosecuted in the UK. And these kinds of offences are routinely prosecuted in the UK.
Fighting allegations in three court districts is extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive. Lauri would find himself under extraordinary pressure to agree to a plea deal.
There is no chance Lauri would be granted bail in the US while awaiting trial. Denial of bail has resulted in other Courage beneficiaries being unable to participate fully in the preparation of their legal defence.
Prisoner transfer arrangements between the UK and the US depend on the recommendation of the US prosecutor. There is no reason to believe that Lauri would be able to serve any sentence in the UK.
Lauri has Asperger’s Syndrome, major depression and severe eczema. He would not receive adequate medical treatment in the US prison system and separation from his family would have a completely devastating impact on his physical and emotional well being.
The only “treatment” Lauri is likely to be able to expect is extended periods on suicide watch, which would exacerbate his symptoms.
If extradited to the US, Lauri would likely not be in a fit state to stand trial. It is entirely possible he would not even be alive to stand trial.
Ruling scheduled for 16 September 2016; Property Act hearing postponed; Lauri Love appears at HOPE conference via videolink
Lauri Love’s extradition hearing, which began last month with twodays of testimony, concluded Monday 25 July with final arguments. Lauri’s attorney, Ben Cooper, reviewed what the court has heard to argue that Lauri would face terrible treatment and a likely high prison sentence in the United States, which would exacerbate his mental and physical health problems, particularly as it would send him far from his support network in the UK. Cooper argued that this case, with computer evidence, is very portable, making it easy to try in the UK.
Prosecutor Peter Caldwell continued to minimise Lauri’s mental health issues, calling him “fit to plead”, deeming him on the “mild” end of the Autism spectrum, and suggesting he should simply take anti-depressants. He also downplayed concerns deriving from multiple jurisdictions issuing extradition requests. According to Nicole Powers, tweeting from the courtroom, Caldwell said “although extradition has been requested by 3 jurisdictions, it’s intended proceedings would take place in “one state”” — if true, this would be news to Courage. Lauri’s US attorney, Tor Ekeland, responded on Twitter: “They are counting on Lauri to waive his constitutional venue rights in order to consolidate the trials. not sure Lauri would want to waive his venue challenges. they cannot supersede these indictments under treaty.” Cooper, meanwhile, emphasised the prosecution’s lack of evidence.
Judge Nina Tempia scheduled her ruling on Lauri’s extradition for 16 September. Additionally, the next hearing in Lauri Love’s civil suit against the NCA will be rescheduled.
After court adjourned, Lauri spoke to supporters outside the courtroom, hoping for an “outbreak of common sense”:
Over the weekend, Courage participated in the 11th HOPE conference in New York City. Courage’s Naomi Colvin appeared on a panel with Carey Shenkman and Jesselyn Radack on ‘Leak Hypocrisy,’ and Colvin and Courage’s Nathan Fuller and Grace North were on a panel with Shenkman, Yan Zhu, and Lauri Love via videolink, reviewing Courage’s recent successes and some of the lessons we’ve learned in our two years as an organisation.
Zhu read a statement, titled ‘Endless Lemons,’ sent to her from Chelsea Manning, addressing the HOPE audience at large.
Speaking via video feed, Lauri discussed his case and its wider implications, explaining why it was important not only for him to fight extradition, but for all of those concerned with the US-UK treaty, the US justice system and mental health issues.
Video of both panels should soon be available here.