A British court approved Friday the extradition of alleged hacker Lauri Love to the United States, where he faces nearly a century in prison for hacking into U.S. government computers.
The Westminster Magistrates’ Court’s ruling, handed down by Judge Nina Tempia, approves Love’s extradition to the U.S., where he faces charges including hacking government agencies, conspiracy, and identity theft in New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. If convicted, he could serve up to 99 years in prison.
The 32-year-old native of Suffolk is accused of being involved in a series of Anonymous-affiliated hacks known collectively as #OpLastResort, in which the international hacking group infiltrated computers of U.S. government agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. Army, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Federal Reserve. U.S. authorities said his actions resulted in the release of employees’ person information and caused millions of dollars in damage.
Love, who has Asperger’s syndrome, warned that his mental health would pose a high risk of him committing suicide if he is sent to a U.S. prison—a move his lawyer, Tor Ekeland, said would “crush” his client.
“I accept Mr. Love suffers from both physical and mental health issues but I have found the medical facilities in the United States prison estate … are such that I can be satisfied his needs will be comprehensively met by the U.S. authorities,” Judge Tempia said in her decision.
Love was first arrested in October 2013 under the Computer Misuse Act, which recognizes the unauthorized access, modification, and obtaining of computer materials as a criminal offense. The high-profile arrest came as a result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the United Kingdom’s then-newly formed National Crime Agency (NCA).
Love’s lawyers have advocated for their client to be tried in the United Kingdom, citing the exception made for Gary McKinnon, who was also accused of hacking U.S. military computers, in 2012. McKinnon, who also has Asperger’s syndrome, had his extradition to the United States blocked by then-Home Secretary Theresa May on the grounds that it would constitute a violation of his human rights. May is now the country’s prime minister.
“I have concluded that Mr. McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life, that the decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr. McKinnon’s human rights,” May said.
The decision to extradite will now be forwarded to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, though Love may appeal the court’s decision.