Autistic hacking suspect wins extradition appeal

An autistic man accused of hacking into US government computers must not be extradited to America, a UK court has ruled.

The Court of Appeal heard 33-year-old Lauri Love has severe mental health issues and was at a “very high risk” of committing suicide if he was sent to the United States to face charges.

Mr Love’s lawyers say US authorities have 14 days to find new points to try and appeal the ruling. Otherwise he will definitely not be extradited.

In the judgment handed down by the Lord Chief Justice and Mr Justice Ouseley, it was found Mr Love’s extradition would have been against his human rights.

There was no reason that Mr Love, who has Asperger’s syndrome, should not be prosecuted in the UK rather than the US, the judgment added.

Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Image: Lauri Love must not be extradited, according to a UK court ruling

Mr Love’s lawyer, Mr Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the Court of Appeal the defence was not seeking immunity from justice, but said if Mr Love was sent to the US there was a significant risk he would not be fit to be tried.

“If (Lauri Love) is dead, putting it bluntly, no victims are going to get any benefit from a trial,” Mr Fitzgerald told the court in London.

He added: “Pragmatically, the UK is the only place where Lauri Love can be tried.”

The Justices wrote the Crown Prosecution Service should now work with the authorities in the US to bring a prosecution against Mr Love in the UK.

An enormous cheer went up inside the court when the verdict was handed down, prompting the Lord Chief Justice to call for calm.

Outside, supporters who had hung up banners for Mr Love cheered the decision and welcomed him as he left the building.

Supporters for alleged computer hacker Lauri Love outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Image: Supporters for alleged computer hacker Lauri Love outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Mr Love, who has dual British and Finnish citizenship, told reporters he hoped to be able to reduce the stigma associated with depression and neurodiversity in the future.

Outside court, Mr Love said: “It was very unfortunate that the prosecution tried to paint my mental health condition as being made-up or fictitious, that contributed to the stigma (about mental health).”

Mr Love also announced his sister Natasha was having a baby today too, her water having broken late on Sunday night.

Before the judgment was handed down he tweeted: “Whatever happens today we will have something to celebrate,” adding “but let (us) hope and will that we have plenty to celebrate”.

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Emma Norton, from campaign group Liberty which intervened in the case, told Sky News: “We are delighted that the court has today recognised Lauri’s vulnerability, close family connections to the UK and the potentially catastrophic consequences of extraditing him.

“This was always a case that could have been prosecuted here and it’s shameful that Lauri and his family have been put through this terrible ordeal.”