Why was Lauri Love arrested?
Lauri Love has been arrested twice in connection with allegations of hacking into US governmental agencies.
He was first arrested in Britain in October 2013, when the US unsealed three indictments against him. Lauri’s computers were seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and he was kept on police bail for nine months.
Lauri Love was arrested again in July 2015, detained for a few days, and released on conditional bail. He is now fighting extradition in the UK courts. Read more about Lauri’s story here.
Why does the US want Lauri Love extradited? How many extradition requests is he facing?
The United States government wants to try Lauri Love with charges resulting from indictments in three districts – the Southern District of New York, Northern New Jersey and the Eastern District of Virginia – for alleged hacks of governmental agencies. That means that Lauri is facing three separate extradition requests.
Lauri has not been permitted to view any of the alleged evidence against him — one aspect of the unfairness at the heart of the UK-US extradition treaty is the United States government does not need to make a prima facie case at Lauri’s extradition hearing. Read more here about the treaty and here about Lauri’s opposition to extradition.
How long does Lauri face in prison if extradited and convicted in the US?
Lauri Love faces a series of indictments in the United States from three separate court districts. News reports have claimed various potential sentences for Lauri Love, which are likely based on only one or two of the three indictments he faces and do not account for US courts’ ability to sentence consecutively, instead of concurrently, should Lauri be be convicted multiple times. Lauri’s legal team calculates that should Lauri be convicted of all charges and sentences are served consecutively, he faces a maximum sentence of 99 years in jail in the United States.
What is the forum bar?
In the wake of Gary McKinnon’s decade-long extradition battle, which concluded with the UK Home Secretary blocking extradition on the basis of health and human rights concerns, the forum bar was introduced. The British government, acknowledging widespread public concern about the way extradition works between the UK and US, added the statutory bar to allow defendants to question if their case should be heard in the United Kingdom instead. The forum bar’s efficacy has been questioned by legal commentators and it has not really been tested in court. In fact, Lauri’s extradition hearing is likely to be the first real test of the forum bar, in circumstances that are substantially similar to Gary McKinnon’s.
What is the current status of Lauri’s extradition case?
District Judge Nina Tempia ruled in favour of Lauri’s extradition on 16 September 2016, meaning the order is now sent to the UK’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who can approve or refuse it. She has until mid-November to make her decision. If she approves Lauri’s extradition, he will have the chance to appeal it in the courts.
In the meantime, politicians and citizens are urging Home Secretary Rudd to intervene in Lauri’s case and halt his extradition. Supporters are writing letters to their MPs and signing petitiona. See our post on next steps for more on how you can help.
When will we know if Lauri is going to be extradited?
There’s a long way to go. The appeal process will stretch into 2017 and could conceivably take several years.
If the UK 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 Metropolitan 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. Lauri’s solicitor in the UK, Karen Todner, has said that the case could be taken all the way up to the UK Supreme Court and even the European Court of Human Rights in Straasbourg.
What happened to Lauri Love’s computers?
When Lauri was first arrested in October 2013, his house was searched and his computers and other digital media property were seized.
In Feburary 2014, Lauri was served with a Section 49 RIPA order to compel him to turn over his encryption keys. Lauri let that deadline pass, risking a two year prison sentence in the UK.
In May 2015, the NCA returned 25 of the 31 items of Lauri’s property it seized nearly two years earlier; it still holds a desktop computer, two laptops, two external hard drives and a SD card. In November 2015, Lauri launched legal action against the NCA to get the rest of his property back.
What happened with Lauri Love’s encryption keys?
When Lauri Love was initially arrested in 2013, the NCA seized 31 items of digital media from Lauri’s parents’ home. Some of these were eventually handed back, but Lauri is now taking the NCA to court to try to get five remaining items returned. The NCA say that some of these items contain encrypted files that they have not been able to read.
When Lauri didn’t comply with a RIPA order to surrender his encryption keys to the devices, a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, the NCA did not follow through with a prosecution. Instead, the agency used Lauri’s own civil suit to retrieve his property to attempt to get the judge to order him to give up his keys, circumventing the safeguards associated with RIPA to get the keys by other means.
In a victory for Lauri and for those who use encryption across Britain, on 10 May 2016 Judge Tempia declined the NCA’s request, avoiding a precedent that would have endangered journalists and their sources nationwide.
Why did Lauri refuse to decrypt his computer?
Lauri Love has not been prosecuted in the UK, but the British NCA seized his property and gave images of his devices to the United States in pursuit of extradition. The NCA attempted to force Love to turn over his encryption keys, issuing a RIPA order to threaten criminal sanction if he refused. Lauri did not comply, defying the RIPA order, an offence punishable by up to two years in prison.
Lauri has taken an important stand for privacy and resisting extradition proceedings by refusing to comply with the order to decrypt his digital devices. He deserves our solidarity in return.
Why is Lauri’s property case important?
When he was arrested in 2013, UK police confiscated all of Lauri Love’s computers along with other digital devices. The National Crime Agency still holds five of Lauri’s items: 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 over two years later. Those disk images have also been shared with law enforcement in the United States.
Lauri launched a civil action against the NCA in order to get his property back and, in November 2015, he succeeded in having this action transferred to Westminster Magistrates Court. Commenting at the time, Lauri said “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.”
On 10 May 2016, Judge Tempia declined the NCA’s request to order Lauri to surrender his encryption keys, avoiding a precedent that would have endangered journalists and their sources nationwide.
How can I help?
Lauri is fighting his extradition in court in the UK. He urgently needs legal defence funds ahead of those hearings; any potential US trial will mean additional costs on top of that so donating to his defence fund will always be important.
Fighting extradition is a political battle as well as a legal one. Writing a letter to your MP or another political representative could make a real difference to Lauri’s situation.
I’m a journalist. How do I go about securing an interview with Lauri or his family?
All media requests for Lauri Love and his family should be directed to the Courage Foundation. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org; we try to accommodate as many requests as possible.
Does the Courage Foundation have images or video footage of Lauri that I can use for my article?
Yes, we do – please send an email to email@example.com.
Can you send me regular updates about Lauri and his legal case?
We certainly can – please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, letting us know that you’d like to be added to the Lauri Love update list.
What is The Courage Foundation and who runs it?
Courage is a trust, audited by accountants Derek Rothera & Company in the UK, for the purpose of providing legal defence and campaign aid to journalistic sources. It is overseen by an unrenumerated committee of trustees. Lauri Love is the trust’s sixth beneficiary. The terms of the fund and its trustees can be obtained from Derek Rothera & Company.
Who runs this website?
The site is commissioned by the trustees of Courage to provide information on the threats Lauri Love faces and what you can do to support him.