US ‘trying to override British justice’ to extradite hacker: Former top prosecutor says future looks ‘ghastly’ if Lauri Love is tried in America
The extradition to the US of accused computer hacker Lauri Love is an attempt to ‘override’ the British justice system, the UK’s former most senior prosecutor has said.
Lord Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the request from American prosecutors raises ‘questions of sovereignty’.
He added that the future looked ‘ghastly’ for the vicar’s son, who has Asperger’s, if he stands trial in the US where he faces a 99-year prison sentence.
Lord Macdonald, who was in charge of prosecuting policy in England and Wales from 2003-8, told the High Court that the usual practice would be to try Mr Love in the UK.
The extradition to the US of accused computer hacker Lauri Love (pictured) is an attempt to ‘override’ the British justice system, the UK’s former most senior prosecutor has said
Lord Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the request from American prosecutors to extradite Mr Love raises ‘questions of sovereignty’
Yesterday, he went further, saying that Mr Love’s case raised questions of sovereignty and arguing that the student should be tried in Britain.
‘The general policy should be that where an offence is committed in this country, it should be tried in this country. That’s what our courts are for,’ he told the Mail.
‘We shouldn’t be relying on other countries’ courts to deal with offences that have been committed here.
‘It’s a question of sovereignty. We’re a sovereign country, we have a criminal justice system. If this guy has committed an offence in the UK he should be tried in the UK.
‘We shouldn’t allow foreign courts, American courts, to override our jurisdiction in the UK. It’s not appropriate to allow foreign courts to override our courts. That’s what’s happening here.’
Lord Ken Macdonald QC is a practising lawyer and Warden of Wadham College, Oxford.
Mr Love, 32, is awaiting the outcome of his High Court appeal last week of the decision to extradite him to the US.
His family warn that the vulnerable young man will kill himself rather than face trial in the US on charges of hacking Nasa, the US Army and the FBI, among others.
Lord Macdonald, who was in charge of prosecuting policy in England and Wales from 2003-8, told the High Court that the usual practice would be to try Mr Love in the UK
Mr Love, 32, is awaiting the outcome of his High Court appeal last week of the decision to extradite him to the US
In his statement at court last week, Lord Macdonald said that those accused of similar crimes were generally tried in British courts.
He wrote that there was a ‘general practice’ of prosecuting those people in the UK, with the notable exception of Mr McKinnon.
‘Almost all such cases have historically been dealt with by English or other relevant local courts abroad. This seems particularly to occur in the case of vulnerable defendants,’ he said.
He said extradition would be a ‘breach of that policy’, adding: ‘It’s a policy about sovereignty and it’s a policy about taking responsibility ourselves for criminal conduct that takes place in the United Kingdom.
‘We will arrest, try and, if they’re convicted, punish people who commit criminal offences in the United Kingdom. We’re not going give people over to other countries for them to deal with them there.
‘It almost creates the situation where British justice is subject to American justice and that’s not the way it works. We’re an independent country.’
He added that it was ‘appropriate’ to try Mr Love in the UK as the British justice system had the resources to deal with him.
Extraditing ‘unwell’ Mr Love, on the other hand, would not be appropriate as the US justice system was ‘completely ill-equipped’ to deal with him.
Mr Love, 32, who has Asperger syndrome, lives with his parents, Alexander and Srkka (pictured earlier this year) near Newmarket in Suffolk
‘They have very poor conditions, very poor medical facilities. As a foreigner suffering from Asperger’s syndrome locked in the American penal system I think his prospects look pretty ghastly.
‘That’s all the more reason for him to be tried here.’
Lord Macdonald added: ‘Fundamentally, we should not cede sovereignty over criminal offences committed in the United Kingdom to foreign states. ‘Our own courts should always take precedence over the courts of other countries, particularly where the suspect is British.
‘We have our own criminal justice system which is perfectly capable of dealing with computer crime. ‘Allowing our courts, rather than foreign judges, to do so is intrinsic part of the UK being an independent sovereign state.’
During the two-day appeal hearing last week, the Lord Chief Justice, the most senior judge in England and Wales, heard that extraditing Mr Love was ‘not in the interests of justice’.
Mr Love’s lawyers said there were ‘overwhelming reasons of justice and humanity’ for his trial to take place in the UK.
They also said that 12 similar cases had been successfully prosecuted in Britain since the student’s arrest.
Three of those have been prosecuted since his extradition hearing last year, raising questions about why he has been singled out, they added.
If extradited, Mr Love, 32, would be the first British person to be extradited to face hacking charge in the US
Last year, the Mail revealed that Mr Love is the only one of more than 29 Britons accused of hacking US Government websites to face extradition to America apart from Mr McKinnon.
Every other accused person, many of whom were charged with more serious crimes, has been prosecuted and sentenced in Britain over the last 20 years.
The hackers prosecuted in the UK also faced far more lenient punishments, including community service.
If extradited, Mr Love, 32, would be the first British person to be extradited to face hacking charge in the US.
His case has striking parallels with that of Gary McKinnon who was spared by Theresa May following a Daily Mail campaign.
Following his case, she introduced the Forum Bar, which was designed to ensure British defendants face charges in the UK if that is where their alleged crime was committed.
The application of the bar is at the centre of Mr Love’s appeal hearing.
Mr Love allegedly hacked US government websites from his parents’ home in Stradishall, Suffolk.
The decision of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett and Justice Ousley is expected in a month’s time.
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