Horse-trading determines who goes to jail and for how long. That is what plea bargaining is. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system.
— US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy (2012)
The February 5 decision of the British court refusing to permit the extradition of hactivist Lauri Love was more than an opinion. It was a reproach. While a quiet confidence had been expressed that the decision would go his way, not permitting his extradition might also dint various trans-national security efforts. Prosecutors were taking note.
Love had been accused of hacking into the systems of various US institutions: the FBI, NASA and the US Central Bank. Such accusations were so grave as to endanger Love with a potential prison sentence of 99 years – provided the US authorities could convince the courts that extradition from the UK was warranted.
They were initially successful, convincing District Court Judge Tempia sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that any harm Love might suffer was conjectural. Despite being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, antibiotic resistant eczema and major depression, not to mention finding that Love was a high suicide risk, the 2016 ruling favoured extradition. Love’s appeal was heard on November 29-30 by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon and Mr Justice Ouseley.
US prosecutors do not take kindly to hactivists. Aaron Schwartz, known for developing the RSS software…