Autistic British hacking suspect wins appeal against extradition to US

LONDON: An autistic British man accused of hacking into US government agencies won his appeal against extradition to the United States on Monday after warnings that he would be at high risk of suicide if sent to a US jail.

Lauri Love, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of involvement in a series of hacks in 2012 and 2013 into computers at agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US army, the Missile Defense Agency and the Federal Reserve.

He had been facing a life prison sentence in the United States if found guilty, a fate which he has said could lead him to taking his own life.

A lower court in London had approved his extradition in 2016 despite warnings from his family, lawyers and supporters about the state of his mental health.

Supporters clapped and cheered in court when Judge Ian Burnett, who is the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, said Love’s appeal was upheld and extradition would not take place.

US authorities say Love was connected to Anonymous, an international group of hackers, and that his actions had caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Love’s father Alexander, a prison chaplain, said his son had been very distressed and afraid about the outcome.

“He has stated on more than one occasion that he fears for his life because he doesn’t think he could cope with the trauma of being taken away from his family and his country,” his father told BBC radio.

Love’s legal team had argued he should face charges in Britain, pointing to new rules that make it easier for British courts to try people for crimes committed there but involving other countries.