British citizen and alleged hacker Lauri Love will be extradited to the United States to face allegations of hacking into United States government computer systems, a UK judge ruled on Friday.
Love, 31, is currently facing up to 99 years in prison for allegedly hacking into the FBI, the US Army, the US Missile Defence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and New York’s Federal Reserve Bank during 2012 and 2013.
US Prosecutors claim that Love was allegedly involved in #OpLastResort, an online protest linked with the Anonymous collective following the persecution and untimely death of activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in 2013 while under federal charges for data theft.
Speaking at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, District Judge Nina Tempia said: "I’ll be extraditing Mr. Love, by which I mean I’ll be passing the case to the Secretary of State."
Tempia said Love could appeal against the court decision. The case will be referred to the home secretary Amber Rudd while Love remains on bail.
Love, his lawyer, and his family members have expressed concern about Love’s well-being in the US, saying they fear for his life due to his mental health issues. Love is suffering from Asperger’s syndrome.
"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," Tempia said in her decision.
Love was initially arrested from his home in Stradishall, England in October 2013, when the British police seized his encrypted laptops and hard drives. The NCA later asked the courts to force Love to turn over keys to decrypt his computer’s hard drives.
Friday’s ruling came a few months after Love won a case against Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which was demanding him disclose passwords to his encrypted computers.
The mother of another British hacker Gary McKinnon, who was accused in 2002 of breaking into NASA and Pentagon computer systems and also avoided extradition to the US on mental health issues, warned Love wouldn’t survive life in the US prison.
If his appeal to the home secretary against Friday’s ruling proves unsuccessful, Love would have 14 days to file an appeal in the High Court for permission to challenge both the judge as well as the home secretary’s decision.