In Depth

Who is Lauri Love? The hacking suspect set to be extradited to the US

Home Secretary has backed decision to extradite the activist to America, where lawyers fear he will be driven to suicide

An order to extradite British hacking suspect Lauri Love to the US has been signed by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. 

The 31-year-old faces a number of charges relating to hacking US government agencies, which could see him face an extensive prison sentence in the US if found guilty. But who is Lauri Love and what is the story behind his extradition?

Where is he from?

Love was born in 1984 in Stradishall, Suffolk, to an English father and Finnish mother. Soon after dropping out of sixth form college, he applied for a Finnish passport and spent a year in the Finnish army. 

Love was part of the anti-establishment Occupy protests in 2011 and was photographed at the Occupy Glasgow protests. He suffers from Asperger syndrome, eczema and depression – three diagnoses that have played a large role in his legal battle to avoid extradition. 

When was he arrested?

Love was first arrested in October 2013 under the UK's Computer Misuse Act, which criminalises unauthorised access, modification and obtaining of computer materials.

He now faces charges related to stealing data from numerous US government agencies including the Federal Reserve. He lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to the US in September. 

Love is also accused of hacking the US army, the Department of Defense, Nasa and the FBI in a "spate of online attacks" in 2012 and 2013, says The Guardian.

Can he still appeal?

It is understood that Love's family will appeal against the decision made by the Home Office. The appeal will be based – partly – on his medical condition.

Love's diagnoses of Asperger syndrome and depression have led his lawyers to express fears that he may be driven to suicide if handed a jail term in the US, which they say could be up to 99 years.

US prosecutors have suggested this is just an "excuse to escape justice", reports the BBC.

Could Obama stop the extradition?

Calls have been put forward to Barack Obama to block the extradition. Over 100 British MPs having signed a letter to the outgoing President asking that he allow Love to face prosecution in his home country, says the Daily Telegraph.

Love's solicitor Karen Todner stated in a letter to the Home Office: "One hundred and fourteen MPs have written to President Obama inviting him to recognise the seriousness of Mr Love's mental illness and withdraw the request for extradition to permit prosecution to proceed in England, where Mr Love would be able to stand trial on bail with the support of his close family and support network."

The push to keep Love in the UK is based on the exception made for Gary McKinnon in 2012. McKinnon also faced charges related to hacking US government agencies, and also suffers from Asperger syndrome. The then home secretary Theresa May blocked the extradition, citing it as a potential violation of McKinnon's human rights.

Love's father, Alexander, echoed the sentiment: "It was going to happen – it was inevitable – but it's still painful. I cannot begin to express how much sorrow it causes me. All we are asking for is British justice for a British citizen."

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