Alleged Stradishall hacker to be extradited to US

Lauri Love
Lauri Love

A Stradishall man accused of causing millions of dollars worth of damage by hacking into the FBI and NASA computer systems, among others, will stand trial in America, a court has ruled.

On Friday, Lauri Love lost his fight against extradition to the US following a ruling by a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

The 32-year-old – who suffers from Asperger syndrome, depression, severe eczema and asthma – is facing indictments in three US districts.

They allege that during October 2012 and October 2013 Love, working with others, made a series of cyber-attacks on the computer networks of private companies and US government agencies in order to steal and then publicly disseminate confidential information.

The agencies listed include the US Federal Reserve, US Army, US Department of Defence, Missile Defence Agency, NASA and FBI.

In most of the attacks, it is alleged Love gained unauthorised access by exploiting vulnerabilities in a programme the computers ran.

Once inside the compromised computer systems, it is said he and others placed hidden ‘shells’ or ‘backdoors’ within the networks which allowed them to return and steal confidential data including telephone numbers, social security numbers, credit card details and salary information of employees, health care professionals and service personnel.

Love’s defence team fought extradition on a number of human rights grounds but the judge found in favour of the US government, ruling it was in the interests of justice for the case to be tried in America.

The court heard that Love’s mental health was dependant on him being at home with his parents and he would be at a severe risk of suicide if extradited to the US.

Love’s father, Reverend Alexander Love, a prison chaplain at HMP Highpoint, said if his son was on remand in the US and his family were no longer with him ‘despair will grip him deeper’.

Under cross examination, Lauri Love denied seeking to promote his personal difficulties as a shield.

In her ruling, judge Nina Tempia said: “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 on arrival and during any sentence if he is convicted available to him are such that I can be satisfied his needs will be comprehensively met by the US authorities.”

If found guilty of the offences in the indictments, Love is likely to receive substantial sentences.

The Secretary of State will now decide whether to order his extradition.