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The Courts United Kingdom Security United States

Should British Hacker Lauri Love Be Tried In America? (theguardian.com) 254

A 31-year-old autistic man in the U.K. is suspected of hacking U.S. government computer systems in 2013 -- and he has one final chance to appeal his extradition. An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US -- a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison... His remaining hope for mercy is a final appeal against extradition in the high court in November. Love's hope is for a full and fair trial in Britain.

Even if he is found guilty in a British court of the most serious crimes in the US government's indictment, his legal team estimate that he faces just a few months in prison. Failure means Love will be flown to a holding facility in New York, placed on suicide watch and probably forced to take antidepressants, prior to a trial. If he refuses to accept a plea deal and is convicted, he will face $9m (£6.8m) in fines and, experts estimate, a prison term of up to 99 years, a punishment illustrative of the US's aggressive sentencing against hackers under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Naomi Colvin, from the human rights group the Courage Foundation, tells the Guardian that "Lauri's case is critically important in determining the reach of America's unusually harsh punitive sanctions for computer crimes."
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Should British Hacker Lauri Love Be Tried In America?

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  • Of course not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2017 @08:42AM (#55168741)

    No-one should ever be extradited to some shithole they never set foot in. If he broke Britsh law, let him be tried in the UK by an applicable court. If the Americans claim he violated US law, give them a lecture about jurisdiction and be done with it.

  • ... all it has is plea bargaining.

    No "ordinary" citizen can possibly afford the cost of invoking the american legal system. It is ruinously expensive and the entire prosecution system knows and relies on that fact.

    As a consequence hardly any but the richest can even get as far as a "presumption of innocence" as that requires going to trial and the phenominal financial burn-rate that entails. So ordinary citizens simply have to take whatever sentence the prosecutors offer them. No trial, no evidence, no

    • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @09:05AM (#55168827)
      I just did jury service. We were instructed quite specifically that the state bringing a case against someone is not to be considered as any indication of guilt.
      • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @09:19AM (#55168867)

        We were instructed quite specifically that the state bringing a case against someone is not to be considered as any indication of guilt.

        You have missed the point. Something like 97% of federal cases never even get to the courtroom.
        Ref: Why U.S. Criminal Courts Are So Dependent on Plea Bargaining [theatlantic.com]

      • And, still, jury trials are considered risky for defendants, never know what might come out the other end, and many juries don't seem inclined to listen to instructions, evidence, or anything besides the prejudices they bring with them into the courtroom, even though the paneling process is supposed to reduce these problems.

        If you're facing 2 years in a minimum security country club with a plea bargain, or potentially 20 years of hard time with a jury trial, what kind of odds are you willing to play in that

  • Obviously not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No crime was committed on US soil. Consider that if China made a law saying no-one could access certain websites, should an American who never left their country be tried in China for violating that law?

    On top of that, the US has a dreadful record of human rights abuses when it comes to the incarcerated and a legal system that funnels people into private prisons with the emphasis being on revenue generation, not rehabilitation. Their record in such cases is one of extreme and disproportionate punitive measu

  • Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by klingens ( 147173 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @08:53AM (#55168781)

    Of course: he committed the crimes against US computers, the crime happened there, so he should be extradited if the extradition treaty between UK and US provides for this.
    A politician war criminal like for example, german nazis, have committed their crimes basically all over Europe and Asia, never set foot into the countries they attacked, the extermination camps were not in the German Reich either but in occupied areas, etc.. In the Nuremberg trials they still were sentenced to the harshest sentenced possible for these kind of crimes, even when they never set foot at the place where the crime happened. So there really is a lot of legal precedent for this.

    If the US laws are too harsh, then this is a different problem. The defendant can't decide where to get sentenced based on the most lenient laws he can choose from. This is not what "in dubio pro reo" means...

    • Those crimes were trialed in an International Court with supra-national jurisdiction. It's not the same thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      In this case US laws are not just "harsh" but closer to cruel and unusual punishment. To the point that other countries could be justified giving political asylum to any people accused of computer crime by US government.
      • Cruel and unusual is in the eye of the beholder... this is the essential question before the magistrate: will he prevent extradition due to the disparity of penalties?

        If you post a picture of a pork BBQ to Facebook and it gets displayed in the UAE, should you be extradited to the UAE to face punishment for your crime?

        • Are images illegal or the possession of pork? Either way, the law is going to effect only the person on UAE soil.
        • If posting a picture of a pork BBQ to Facebook is also illegal in your country, sure.

    • This doesn't seem to be the defendant deciding, it seems to be the courts of his home country.

      Extradition treaties shouldn't be a one way gate, which is the current situation with US-UK.

    • What does "in dubio pro reo" have to do with extradition?

    • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      Of course: he committed the crimes against US computers, the crime happened there,

      No. The crime happens where the criminal is located and acts, not where the effect of the actions manifests.

  • extradition treaty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doctorvo ( 5019381 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @08:59AM (#55168803)

    Naomi Colvin, from the human rights group the Courage Foundation, tells the Guardian that "Lauri's case is critically important in determining the reach of America's unusually harsh punitive sanctions for computer crimes."

    Answer: look in the extradition treaty.

    If you don't like "America's unusually harsh punitive sanctions for computer crimes", get your government to renegotiate the treaty.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The issue isn't the treaty, it's human rights. We aren't supposed to extradite people of their human rights are likely to be violated. That could include the death penalty and extremely long sentences.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Calydor ( 739835 )

        One could even argue that being jailed for life in a foreign country should be comparable to the death sentence. As someone said higher up, getting shot in the head can even be argued to be MORE humane than spending the rest of your life in prison with no chance of ever getting out.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          There is also some question over the availability of suitable treatment for his condition, and if the US system can give someone with it a fair trial.

          • There is also some question over the availability of suitable treatment for his condition, and if the US system can give someone with it a fair trial.

            If you think European legal systems are any better at that, you're just displaying more of your trademark ignorance.

            • by Megol ( 3135005 )

              European legal systems? Which types are you referring to? In general yes the European legal systems are better, loser pays , the level of evidence needed for a conviction in criminal cases are often extreme*, the defense is generally better etc. Stacking of verdicts on different aspects of the same crime isn't used. But the types of systems vary a lot.

              But of course Europe also includes Russia and some other countries with suspect legal systems. Guess those are the only ones that matter?

      • The issue isn't the treaty, it's human rights. We aren't supposed to extradite people of their human rights are likely to be violated. That could include the death penalty and extremely long sentences.

        Treaties have provisions for dealing with such issues; usually, extradition comes with the provision that the punishment won't be harsher than the punishment in the country of citizenship. So you are speaking from a position of ignorance.

        Furthermore, if you don't like the US legal system in principle, don't si

  • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @09:01AM (#55168813) Journal
    He did not commit any crime while in the US jurisdiction so no. He was in the UK at the time and subject to UK law so he should only be tried in the UK. To do otherwise means that the UK has lost all sovereignty because then while in the UK you don't just have to follow UK law but also US law over which the UK has no control.

    Extradition is intended to prevent someone committing a crime while in a country's jurisdiction and then running away to a foreign country to escape answering for it. If the US does not think that UK law is strict enough to prevent hacking attacks like this the solution is to block all internet connections from the UK not try to enforce US law on someone who has probably never even visited the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      He was in the UK at the time and subject to UK law so he should only be tried in the UK.

      But he specifically attacked US entities. Effectively if we follow your reasoning this is becomes reduced to a state sponsored attack on the US by the UK. Now if he attacked indiscriminately against computers of various origins that just so happened to include US computers then I would agree with you.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Effectively if we follow your reasoning this is becomes reduced to a state sponsored attack on the US by the UK.

        Absolutely not! What he did is a crime in the UK and absent an extradition he will be tried and punished in the UK for the crime he committed in the UK.

        • and absent an extradition

          Projecting.

          The thing is most things need to be a crime in the home country in order to qualify for extradition, so that is kind of a pointless statement. It may have been a crime in the UK, but it didn't affect anyone in the UK and there was no damage done in the UK, it wasn't discovered by the UK, and if it wasn't for the American victims the UK would have zero interest.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            Sure, but since he's not getting off scott free even if he remains in the UK, it's not exactly fair to claim he's going to go unpunished nor is it fair to claim that his actions would somehow be state sponsored, now is it?

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            Thing is, he was in the UK. So fuck the US victims if they don't want to inform the UK of activity illegal in the UK and request that the UK prosecute the breach of UK laws.

            Stop trying to impose extraterritorial injustices.

      • But he specifically attacked US entities. Effectively if we follow your reasoning this is becomes reduced to a state sponsored attack on the US by the UK.

        No for three reasons. First and foremost what he did is illegal under UK law so he was breaking UK law and should be answerable for that in the UK. Secondly there was no physical attack he merely persuaded some computers to send information the US did not want sent.

        Lastly, even if it were not illegal under UK law, a citizen of a country exercising their rights and freedoms under that country's laws does not make it a "state sponsored attack". State sponsored attacks are conducted by someone on a governm

        • First and foremost what he did is illegal under UK law

          Which is the first step of all extradition proceedings. It's basically impossible to get someone arrested and extradited from a country where a practice is legal.

          should be answerable for that in the UK. Secondly there was no physical attack he merely persuaded some computers to send information the US did not want sent.

          But you contradict thyself. Was it illegal in the UK or not, was the target the US or not? If the target was not someone in the US then what is he being charged for in the UK? The location of the victims of a crime basically forms the foundation of why extradition exists. This isn't some special case because "computer".

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @10:50AM (#55169275)

      Extradition is intended to prevent someone committing a crime while in a country's jurisdiction and then running away to a foreign country to escape answering for it.

      That's exactly what happened here, except the order of the crime and fleeing are reversed. He committed the crimes remotely - he "fled" first, then (allegedly) committed the crimes.

      There's a concept in common law states called standing [oxforddictionaries.com]. The crime was (remotely) committed in the U.S. The injured party is in the U.S. The (purported) criminal is in the UK. The injured party has no standing (right to sue) in the UK. Consequently, the correct venue to hold the trial is in the U.S. This is exactly the type of situation extradition treaties were set up to address.

      If what he did was legal in the UK, then it'd be a different story. And I'd completely understand if the UK refused to extradite for that reason. Likewise if the UK felt there was insufficient evidence against him, then I'd understand if they denied the extradition request (c.f. New Zealand and Kim Dotcom). But if he'd be subject to trial in the UK if he had committed these acts against a UK citizen or UK government, then there's really no reason not to honor the U.S.' extradition request. I suppose the UK could grant the U.S. government standing and the broad right to sue UK citizens in UK courts for violating UK law outside the UK against U.S. citizens and interests. But I think UK citizens would prefer extradition to that.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        This isn't about standing and suing, this is a criminal charge. Sue a British person all you fucking like in the US, but if you want to charge them with a crime then they'd better have been in the US when they committed it.

        The US don't need "standing" for the CPS to pursue a prosecution; if the law was broken, there's sufficient evidence that a trial can be reasonably believed will reach a guilty verdict and it's in the public interest then the CPS will prosecute, irrespective of who the fucking victim is.

    • Then Osama Bin Laden didn't commit terror crimes because he wasn't in the country at the time? Fuck off, you fucking moron. Jurisdiction matters for arresting the person and where the crime happened, which sets the jurisdiction. Not where the alleged criminal is standing.
  • According to the FBI, Lauri Love and his co-conspirators caused in excess of $5,000,000 in damages in the U.S.. Even allowing for likely exaggeration, that's more than several average people combined would earn in a lifetime.

    Had Love acted with government sanction, what he did would be considered an act of war. It is not reasonable to have him protected from the consequences of his actions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The US government allegedly needed to spend $5,000,000 on improving security after the incident. Of course, those were the same improvements that they needed to make even before the incident happened, judging by the fact that it was able to happen in the first place. Actual damages caused were... were there any?

    • by tomxor ( 2379126 )

      According to the FBI, Lauri Love and his co-conspirators caused in excess of $5,000,000 in damages in the U.S.. Even allowing for likely exaggeration, that's more than several average people combined would earn in a lifetime.

      Had Love acted with government sanction, what he did would be considered an act of war. It is not reasonable to have him protected from the consequences of his actions.

      "According to the FBI"... so its true then, in America, an unnamed alleged offence is enough to be considered guilty of crimes against humanity, sounds like a country of witch hunting. Do you realise no evidence for any specific crime has been brought against him? of course you should always be able to just trust the goverment to randomly black hole people without trial right? because that would never massively corrupt any system.

    • One's 'mental health' is a thing to be considered in sentencing in the UK. It might well be in the US too, but it's unlikely to be a mitigating feature in any trial, if indeed he gets anywhere near a trial.

      Thus, it comes down to how humane the UK wants to be here. What this story is all about is to ask the UK judge (via public pressure) to look at the likely sentence he'd get in the UK versus the likely sentence (and treatment) he'll get in the US. Given that disparity, which is the most humane and likely t

  • by Artagel ( 114272 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @09:40AM (#55168939) Homepage

    The article gets wrong the priority of the U.S. Constitution and the statute he would be sentenced under. It is unconstitutional to give a cruel and unusual punishment. No U.S. law can permit it. If the sentencing guidelines would calculate a cruel and unusual punishment, it is illegal as being unconstitutional.

    Given that the hack he is accused of carrying out for was defacing the U.S. Commission for sentencing guidelines, and protesting sentences against hackers as being too harsh, if he is convicted it is hard to say that he didn't know he had it coming. He would have actually studied up on the punishment before doing the crime.

    U.S. Prosecutors will probably offer a deal: turn on your compatriots for a reduced sentence. Prosecution in Great Britain will have little leverage to force that.

  • If you commit a crime you need to face judgement for that crime. The issue usually comes down to where the crime was committed. When someone walks into a bank and robs , it's very clear where the crime was committed and where the accused will potentially face a trial.

    The question of whether one should face judgement in one location or another isn't new. Mail fraud, telephone scams and other crimes have faced these same questions for generations. If it is determined based on historical precedent that the cri

  • ... for its crap security. This is not the first time that some mentally disabled idiot from abroad has been wandering around inside important systems. Last time it was 100% because the installation passwords were still in place. That is not hacking, it is incompetence. It is security that should be on trial not some idiot from abroad.
  • For the UK to be bending over on this just shows what a bitch of the US they actually are.
    Any government with any actual balls would defend their sovereignty.

  • In any event, if this individual is extradited and sent to the U.S. and incarcerated there, a free name change should defintely be provided to him.

    He isn't going to do well in the US Prison System as a male with a name like "Lauri Love".

    There are cultural differences, and sensitivity needs to be applied.

  • 1) Donate lavishly to politicians.

    2) Maintain a network of political contacts.

    3) Have a team of highly capable, highly paid attorneys.

    4) Be wealthy.

    A primer on how to avoid prosecution. [google.com]

    • "Laws are like spider webs. They will trap smaller insects but larger prey will break through." - multiple attributions

    • apparently many think being a pitiful autistic SOB is grounds too for committing all manner of destructive or otherwise evil behaviour.

  • Not even close. US has been too harsh (Far too harsh) in prosecuting hacking but there have literally been people executed for hacking. To my knowledge, we as Americans have yet to match that.

    To my ignorant, flat world, black and white, American eyes at least.
  • Seriously, are we not supposed to convict criminals that claim to be autistic?

    Failure means Love will be flown to a holding facility in New York, placed on suicide watch and probably forced to take antidepressants, prior to a trial.

    And in the U.K., wouldn't they take similar precautions to keep a high-risk prisoner safe? Would they deny him needed medication? Turn a blind eye to his suicide attempts?

    Come on, these days it seems like nearly half of all school-age children are considered to be 'on the autism spectrum'... (in truth it's more like 2%)

  • I may have this wrong but I believe that extradition by the USA has been requested because they won't try him in the UK, and if he were tried in the UK he could not be tried for the same offense in the US
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      I may have this wrong but I believe that extradition by the USA has been requested because they won't try him in the UK, and if he were tried in the UK he could not be tried for the same offense in the US

      Yes this is right:

      Reasons for refusing an extradition request, bars to extradition, are set out in both Parts1 and 2 of the Act, and also within multi and bilateral extradition instruments, and include the following (this list is not exhaustive):

      'Double jeopardy'; a person must not be prosecuted or sentenced in respect of an offence that he has already been convicted or acquitted of.

      ...

      From The Crown Prosecution Service extradition fact sheet [cps.gov.uk]

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