Judges reserve decision over extradition challenge by hack accused Lauri Love

Lauri Love court case

Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love faces a wait to find out if he has successfully challenged a ruling that he can be extradited to the US.

Two judges sitting at the High Court in London on Thursday reserved their decision in Mr Love's appeal to a date to be fixed.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Mr Justice Ouseley heard argument on his behalf that extradition would not be in the "interests of justice" for a number of reasons, including the "high risk" that Mr Love, who suffers from Asperger syndrome, would kill himself.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett is to rule on alleged computer hacker Lauri Love's extradition fight (Victoria Jones/PA)

Edward Fitzgerald QC submitted there were "overwhelming reasons of justice and humanity" why any trial should take place in the UK.

Mr Love, 32, who lives with his parents near Newmarket in Suffolk, and also suffers from a depressive illness and severe eczema, was present on the second day of the hearing to hear the judges say they would "take time" to consider their judgment.

Authorities in America have been fighting for Mr Love to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking, which lawyers have said could mean a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if he is found guilty.

He is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from US agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the US army, the defence department, Nasa and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.

In September 2016 a district judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court ruled that Mr Love could be extradited. The High Court proceedings centred on that ruling made by District Judge Nina Tempia.

Mr Fitzgerald argued that the "proper place for him to be tried, if he is to be tried, is in the UK and not in the US".

High Court Appeal has concluded - support was fantastic - judges were erudite - arguments were well-pleaded - in the hands of higher powers now we trust.

-- ? Lauri Love ? (@laurilove) November 30, 2017

The QC said it would be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite him because of his severe mental disorders.

Peter Caldwell, representing the US, made submissions inviting the judges to dismiss Mr Love's appeal.

In written argument he said the district judge's conclusion on extradition was "reasonably open to her on the findings of fact she made".

Having identified a high risk of suicide, she "properly assessed whether and how that risk could be managed were the appellant to be extradited".

He told the judges: "The evidence of the US authorities established that any risk to the appellant would be appropriately managed during transit in custody, and were bail refused, within the setting of pre-trial detention, and if he were convicted, on sentence."

Mr Love's case bears similarities to that of Gary McKinnon, another alleged cyber-hacker with Asperger syndrome, who eventually had his extradition blocked by Theresa May in 2012, when she was home secretary, after a decade-long legal battle.

However Mrs May later announced changes to the law that transferred powers in extradition cases away from the Home Secretary to the courts.

Further changes introduced in 2013 allow judges to block extradition if a "substantial measure" of the alleged offence took place in the UK and extradition would not be in the interest of justice, known as the forum bar.

Making final submissions, Mr Fitzgerald told the two judges: "If extradition were to be refused on forum grounds then the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) would review the position about prosecution here, and it is very likely there would be a prosecution ..."

There could be, he said, a "fair and proper" trial in this country, but if Mr Love was sent to the US there was "a virtual certainty that his condition will deteriorate and he will not receive the treatment and care that he needs".

There was a real risk that he would be subjected to "inhuman conditions".

Mr Fitzgerald concluded: "We simply ask the court to give him the protection intended by the forum bar, and to find that in all the circumstances this would be a disproportionate and unfair extradition."

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