Judge OKs extradition of Brit on U.S. hacking charges

Associated Press

London — A British man accused of hacking into U.S. military and government computer systems and stealing confidential information should be extradited to the United States to face trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Judge Nina Tempia said Lauri Love faces “extremely serious charges,” and his extradition would not be disproportionate.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the judge said “I am satisfied Mr. Love’s extradition would be compatible with his (human) rights.”

She said Love, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, “suffers from both physical and mental health issues,” but ruled that the U.S. prison system is capable of meeting his needs.

Tempia sent the case to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who makes the final decision on extraditions.

Love has 14 days to appeal the judgment to the High Court.

U.S. prosecutors say 31-year-old Love hacked agencies including the U.S. Army, NASA, the Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency between 2012 and 2013, stealing names, Social Security numbers and credit card information.

Love, from Stradishall in eastern England, was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of computer crimes but has not been charged in Britain.

He has been charged in three U.S. states — New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

Love’s lawyers say he has Asperger’s, as well as eczema and asthma, and will be at risk of suicide if he is jailed in the U.S.

After the ruling, Love said he worried about the toll the long legal case is “taking on my health and my family’s.”

But he said “it just means that when we do win, it will have more force.”

American attempts to extradite U.K. hackers have often become politicized.

Gary McKinnon, accused of hacking U.S. military computers in 2002, fought a decade-long legal battle which eventually thwarted the extradition bid.

Love’s father, prison chaplain Rev. Alexander Love, said outside court that it “is not right that my son can be taken away.”

“It is my belief that it is not fair or just that a boy who has mental health issues can be taken away from his family, who are his support network, merely to satisfy the desire of the Americans, to exact what I feel is vengeance on him,” he said.