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US hacking accused Lauri Love: I could die behind bars

Published 15/11/2016

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has signed an order for the extradition of Lauri Love to the US
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has signed an order for the extradition of Lauri Love to the US

Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love fears he will die behind bars after Home Secretary Amber Rudd authorised his extradition to the US.

Mr Love, 31, who has Asperger syndrome, spoke of his fears as his father called for "British justice for a British citizen".

Mr Love is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from US agencies including the Federal Reserve, the US Army, the Department of Defence, Nasa and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.

US authorities have been fighting for Mr Love, who lives with his parents near Newmarket in Suffolk, to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking, which his lawyers say could mean a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if he is found guilty.

The Home Office said Ms Rudd had "carefully considered all relevant matters" before signing an order for Mr Love's extradition on Monday.

Mr Love told the Daily Mail: "I don't think much of my future life prospects. I face decades and decades behind bars and at worst I may die.

"We were kind of expecting this but it's still a disappointment and a kick in the gut. I've got to watch my mental health now and make sure I have support. We will put as much as we can into the appeal."

Mr Love, who could face the possibility of three separate trials in different jurisdictions, has 14 days to apply for permission to appeal against the decision.

Responding to the announcement, Mr Love's father, the Rev Alexander Love, told the Press Association: "It was going to happen - it was inevitable - but it's still painful. I cannot begin to express how much sorrow it causes me."

He added: "All we are asking for is British justice for a British citizen."

It is alleged that between October 2012 and October 2013 Mr Love caused "millions of dollars'" worth of damage by placing hidden "backdoors" within the networks he compromised, allowing them to return and steal confidential data.

Mr Love, who also suffers from depression and eczema, has said that a jail term in the US could cause his health to deteriorate and would lead to a mental breakdown or suicide.

Sarah Harrison, director of the Courage Foundation, which runs Mr Love's defence fund and support campaign, said the decision to send him for trial in the US under Donald Trump's command "beggars belief".

Ms Harrison 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 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 (another alleged hacker with Asperger syndrome) 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."

Mr Love refused to say whether he admitted to the allegations during repeated questioning by presenter Sarah Montague on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Asked how he would defend himself against the allegations, he replied: " What I would probably have to say is I'm sorry for the prejudicial questions I was asked on national radio because we do these things in court for a reason."

Mr Love said the extradition decision was an "aberration of justice".

He said: " I'm waiting to be accused in the UK. When I'm charged in the UK then I can see the evidence and then I can form a defence with my legal team and that's what's done in every other criminal prosecution.

"What we are hoping for is that I can have a trail under UK law and that's where these questions will be determined," he added. "I'm sorry if this is difficult but that is how due process should work."

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