Alleged Hacker Lauri Love Can Be Extradited To US, Court Rules

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A UK court has ruled that alleged hacker Lauri Love can be extradited to the US to face hacking charges there.

Love, who is 31 years old and suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, could face up to 99 years in prison if he is convicted of hacking into FBI systems, the US central bank, as well as the US missile defense agency.

Love has 14 days to appeal the decision, which according to his supporters at today’s hearing at Westminster magistrates court is likely to happen.

According to the Guardian Love’s solicitor Karen Todner said the appeal process would go all the way to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg if necessary. “I feel awfully disappointed,” Todner said. “I thought we had done enough. I’m hopeful that the higher courts will consider the human rights issues.”

Love himself has said that he fears a sentence in a US prison could lead to a mental breakdown or even suicide.

Jake Davis, also known as the hacker Topiary, criticized the decision. On Twitter he wrote, “This is a horrible decision. This case has been a mess from the start. Prosecutions on both sides of the Atlantic ridiculous. This level of pressure and bullying from the United States is unacceptable. No real evidence delivered to defense at all.”

Love was first arrested in October 2013 under the Computer Misuse Act. “According to the indictment, Lauri Love and conspirators hacked into thousands of networks, including many belonging to the United States military and other government agencies,” US Attorney Paul J. Fishman said at the time. “As part of their alleged scheme, they stole military data and personal identifying information belonging to servicemen and women.”

Charges against Love in the UK were dropped in June 2014, which opened the way for this extradition process. He was then rearrested in July 2015 after the US filed an extradition order.

Love’s case is similar to that of Gary McKinnon, another hacker who had faced extradition proceedings. Like Love, McKinnon suffers from Asperger's syndrome and depression and was considered a suicide risk if faced with a prison sentence. McKinnon eventually won his battle against extradition to the US after Theresa May, who was home secretary at the time, stepped in to block the extradition proceedings, claiming it would be, “incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights.”

Chris Hodson, CISO EMEA, Zscaler, said the announcement could set a new precedent for hacking offenses.

“The penalties for cybercrime have historically been disproportionate to in-person crime.  However, this verdict could see that change, as cybercrime is now more frequent and more damaging to nation states and businesses than ever before,” he said.

“By its very nature, hacking and online crime is complex and difficult to track, making attribution a tricky area for authorities. Even more so, when it comes to organized, financially-motivated criminal syndicates. The real challenge for courts and nation states is how they catch and prosecute the organized criminal syndicates that consistently cause economic loss and political havoc,” he added.

Photo © trekandshoot

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