Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love has won his High Court appeal against extradition to the US.
Two judges sitting at the High Court in London gave their decision on the appeal by the 32-year-old, who has Asperger syndrome, on Monday morning.
“Very happy, relieved, very thankful for the High Court, for the judges,” a beaming Love, surrounded by cheering supporters, told waiting reporters outside the court.
“We come to the conclusion that Mr Love’s extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition,” two High Court judges wrote in their ruling on his appeal.
Love’s lawyers had argued that he was not seeking to avoid justice, and was prepared to stand trial in Britain. The judges indicated that was what should now happen.
“The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) must now bend its endeavours to his prosecution, with the assistance to be expected from the authorities in the United States, recognising the gravity of the allegations in this case,” they wrote.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Mr Justice Ouseley heard arguments during a hearing in November that extradition would not be in the “interests of justice” for a number of reasons, including the “high risk” that Love would kill himself.
Authorities in America had been fighting for Love to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking, which lawyers have said could mean a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if he is found guilty.
Love, who lives with his parents near Newmarket in Suffolk, and also suffers from a depressive illness and severe eczema, is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from US agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the US army, the defence department, Nasa and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.
His father, the Reverend Alexander Love, had warned his son “feared for his life” because he did not think he could cope with the trauma of being sent to America.
Ahead of the hearing, his father told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “He is very distressed, he is obviously afraid because he has stated on more than one occasion that he fears for his life because he doesn’t think he can cope with the trauma of being taken away from his family and his country and taken in exile to America.”
In September 2016 a district judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Love could be extradited. The High Court appeal centred on that ruling made by District Judge Nina Tempia.