Bethany Horne reports that as expected, Lauri Love will be fighting attempts to extradite him to the U.S. to face hacking charges.
The US alleges Love is a “sophisticated computer hacker” loosely affiliated with the Anonymous hacker collective, and that he “secretly infiltrated” computer systems used by a long list of government agencies including the Federal Reserve, Nasa, the Department of Energy and the FBI between October 2012 and August 2013, “publicly disseminating confidential information found on those servers”.
The request for extradition describes Love as “part of a community of so called ‘hactivists’,” who seek to infiltrate the computer networks of major companies and government entities and steal confidential or protected information … and then publicly disclose that information in order to embarrass the company or government entity.”
Read more on The Guardian.
As I reported previously, Love was indicted in 2013 and 2014 in New Jersey, Eastern District Virginia, and the Southern District of New York. And I’ll go out on a limb and say I think it’s pretty clear that they have sufficient chat logs and other evidence to nail him under the CFAA if they ever get to try any of the cases here.
But will he be able to successfully fight extradition based on humanitarian and mental health reasons? I think his case is significantly different than Gary McKinnon’s in important ways, not the least of which is that McKinnon wasn’t part of any conspiracy to hack and expose government data – and he didn’t threaten to misuse the financial information of over 100,000 American citizens employed by one of the entities Love allegedly hacked.
In other words, I expect the U.S. to lean very hard on the UK to agree to extradition in this case. Whatever Love’s diagnosis(es) may be, there’s nothing in the chat logs to show that he was unable to know right from wrong or that what he was doing was a violation of law. If he has a diagnosis that involves psychotic thinking, then that’s something that might make a difference, but if his attorney is going to try to sell ASD or Bipolar Disorder as an excuse for his behavior, then all she is doing is adding to the stigma people with those diagnoses face on a daily basis.
Hacktivists will not be happy with me for saying this, but U.S. law enforcement cannot give Lauri Love or other proficient hackers a free pass (even though Hector Monsegur got off lightly by agreeing to become an informant for the FBI). Although CFAA clearly needs reform and can be draconian in its punishment, if the allegations against Love are accurate, this was not a one-time or limited thing, but a repeated and concerted set of attacks against the U.S. And that demands consequences.
The best thing for Love might be to cooperate with the NCA and stand trial in the UK where he’d likely get a much more lenient sentence. His past and current strategy may just result in him out-smarting himself into the hands of U.S. prosecutors.