Behind the News: Computer Hack Suspect Lauri Love wins his fight against extradition to the US.

By 08/02/2018news
person on a laptop

You may recall that following the Gary McKinnon extradition case, the Home Secretary at the time, Theresa May, said she would legislate to introduce a “forum bar” to allow Defendants to argue in future cases that the offences alleged against them in a US extradition request can be “fairly and effectively” dealt with here.

Mr Love’s case relied, in part, on this “forum bar.”

At paragraph 43 and 44 the Lord Chief Justice said:-

What persuades us ………… the nature of Mr Love’s connection to the United Kingdom. By itself, the fact that he is a British national, long resident here, with a girlfriend, and engaged in studies, would not have persuaded us that the decision [of the Judge below who allowed the extradition] was wrong. But there is a particular strength in the connection to his family and home circumstances provided by the nature of his medical conditions and the care and treatment they need. This is not just or even primarily the medical treatment he receives, but the stability and care which his parents provide. That could not be provided abroad. His entire well-being is bound up with the presence of his parents. This may now have been enhanced by the support of his girlfriend. The significance of the breaking of those connections, as we come to next, demonstrates their strength. We do not accept the submission that the connections make an overwhelming case, regardless of whether the other factors could not tell in favour of extradition. But they, with the other factors which we consider should have told against extradition, outweigh those factors favouring extradition sufficiently clearly to persuade us that the judge was wrong on this question. In this case the forum bar found in section 83A of the 2003 Act operates to prevent Mr Love’s extradition to the United States.

In clause 5 of their judgement the Court set out what is less well reported in the papers – what Mr. Love is accused of: –

In most of the attacks it is alleged Mr Love gained unauthorised access by exploiting vulnerabilities in a programme the computers ran known as Adobe ColdFusion; software designed to build and administer websites and databases (the “ColdFusion Attacks”). It is further alleged Mr Love also carried out “SQL Injection Attacks” in which unauthorised access was gained to computer databases by manipulating “structured query language”, computer programming language designed to retrieve and manage data on computer databases (the “SQL Injection Attacks”). Once inside the compromised computer systems, Mr Love and others placed hidden “shells” or “backdoors” within the networks. This allowed them to return and steal the confidential data which included telephone numbers, social security numbers, credit card details and salary information of employees, health care professionals, and service personnel.

In my view, these are accusations of extreme gravity – leaving a back door in computers so servicemen’s personal and financial details can be stolen.

On the Twitter site I saw comments such as that the threatened extradition “… violates his rights…” and “… US is being a bully… this is an atrocity” and “Shameful Lauri & his family were put through this ordeal…

In the light of the accusations, these comments sound ill-informed.


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