British Hacker Lauri Love’s Appeal Sets Interesting Legal Precedents

Hacker Lauri Love Sets Legal Precedent Following Controversial Bid to Resist US Extradition for Alleged Hacking of Government Websites

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Lauri Love, the high profile British hacker, whose story we covered at Distract the Media back in September 2016, has hit the headlines again after successfully winning his appeal against extradition by the US Government at the English High Court of Appeal in London. As hinted at in our previous article, veteran Hacktivist and conscientious objector Love has successfully reset the legal precedent in high profile cyber hacktivist cases such as his, after successfully setting out a well argued legal defense based on humanitarian grounds. During the course of an earlier hearing towards the end of last year Love’s Barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, argued his case on substantial medical and Human Rights grounds based on the defendant’s mental health and other related issues.

Having successfully clarified that Love was at a very high risk of committing suicide in the event of being jailed in the US at last November’s hearing, a situation likely to be made all the more serious when combined with the very real threat that his present unstable condition is likely to deteriorate further if he is extradited overseas, two judges ruled earlier today that if there was a case to answer it would have to be heard in the UK courts. The significance of today’s judgement cannot be underestimated in relation to Human Rights specific cases, and the fact that the US has now failed to exercise its extra-territorial rights in this particular instance means that a number of legal anomalies have been opened up; with specific reference to the manner in which the case was brought to trial in the first place.

The very successful media campaign that Love and his supporters, who include prominent members of the Anonymous Collective, have waged in the UK and elsewhere is for his right to be tried in his own country to be recognized in law by the international community. The Judgement, set out on very good legal grounds, seeks to clarify the position under Part 2 of the UK Extradition Act 2003, in the context of ‘various rights guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights’. The Judges who issued the ruling were anxious that certain of the defendant’s rights under the ECHR would be breached in the event of his extradition to the US; most ‘notably article 3, in the light of his health and the conditions he would face in the United States, and article 8 in the light of those factors, his home support and treatment, and the possibility of criminal proceedings being taken against him in the UK for the offences for which his extradition is sought.’ The Judges also added that the matters that they had considered ‘are all issues for this Court and not for the Home Secretary. Her decision on the specific issues she had to consider is not challenged.’

The additional fact that another young hacker, eighteen year old Kane Gamble, was recently tried at the Old Bailey in relation to charges involving, among other things, hacking into the email account of former US Intelligence Chief John Brennan, who recently left his job to become an analyst on security matters for NBC News and the MSNBC network, only further strengthens the legal basis of today’s judgement. Thus making it all the more difficult for the US authorities to challenge the ruling. The fact that in the original indictment filed against Love in New York it was claimed that he had bragged to other hackers in an internet chat room that ‘he controlled the computer server for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’ is only likely to irritate the US government further. And, the additional fact that he is also alleged to have claimed to have ‘shelled’ the Federal Reserve computer system, thus using a specific hacker term referring to the insertion of a malicious piece of code used to gain access to a particular website or computer that is under attack, could well antagonize them even more.

Although Love was arrested by the UK National Crime Agency in October 2013 in connection with matters directly related to the indictment, a court ruling in 2016, which refused a subsequent NCA request to force him to divulge passwords to the encrypted computers and peripherals that had been seized by the agency at the time of his arrest, has thus far ensured that no charges have as yet been brought against him in the UK. This means that although Love has effectively won the right to face trial in Britain in connection with charges directly related to hacking, thus far he hasn’t been charged with anything, so no trial is scheduled to take place. In view of these facts and the legal anomalies that they present it is by no means impossible that this affair may end up being strung out for several more years before either one side or the other sees a satisfactory conclusion in their favor.

 

Photo Credit: Geni         Wikimedia Commons Licence

 

 

Rupert Ferguson
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Rupert Ferguson

Journalist at Distract The Media
Rupert Ferguson is a published author, journalist and radical film maker with specialist interests in local government, politics, environmental issues and Traditional English and Scottish Folk Music. His academic work has been endorsed by the likes of Sir Melvyn Bragg, the late Sir James Watt KBE and the former head of Humanities at Bingley College in Yorkshire, England; James Reed.

Having begun his career as a junior researcher at Thames Television in London, he has written for a wide range of publications including 'The Brighton Reporter', 'Durham Town and Country', 'The Brighton and Hove People' and 'The New Celtic Review'. As an exhibited film maker he has been a regular contributor and award nominee at the Portobello Film Festival in London; and has seen his work shown at the annual London Film Makers' Convention at the prestigious Round House Theatre.

As well as receiving enthusiastic reviews from BBC Radio 4 and others for his book on Sir Walter Scott, his pioneering work as an Underground Film Maker on the fledgeling Goa Trance Scene has set him in a field of his own amongst many of his contemporaries; both in the UK, where he presently resides, and elsewhere. Current projects presently in hand include a book centred on his 'Legendary London' series of documentary films, which have stimulated an enthusiastic response from the likes of Glenda Jackson and others; and a novel set in France and Edinburgh during the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment.

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