Well that’s a hell of a headline to have to write, but there it is: accused hacker, Occupy activist, and sometime Cryptosphere contributor Lauri Love’s 31st birthday was December 14, yesterday, and a man with almost 5000 Facebook friends, plus a public page and a support group could normally look forward to a wall full of birthday greetings.
Instead, he headed them off with a heartfelt post saying that if the government decides to extradite him from the UK to the US to face hacking charges, there will not be a next birthday.
Please instead of or in addition to writing a message on my wall wishing me a happy birthday today, consider writing to your MP or other elected representative raising concern about my possible extradition to the USA:
I have to be honest. I will not have a nice happy birthday. My skin condition has deteriorated drastically in the last week and I have spent the last couple of days in severe pain and discomfort.
I am thoroughly and acutely depressed and it takes almost all the mental strength I have to fend off thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide.
I will not spent today amongst friends, except the staff of the police station where I have to report, and some vaguely familiar faces at University if I manage to make it there to catch up on some study.
I am not well enough to be around other people and pull off a reasonable impression of a human.
All I really ask is that I have a chance to be in a better situation this time around next year. If I am extradited, there will not be a this time around next year.
Love, who is studying for his Master’s in Electrical Engineering at Cambridge, faces up to 12 years in American prison on charges of hacking: “protected computers belonging to the DOE, HHS, U.S. Sentencing Commission, FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, Deltek, Inc. and Forte Interactive, Inc. Love unlawfully obtained massive amounts of sensitive and confidential information stored on those computers, including more than 100,000 employee records with names, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and salary information, along with more than 100,000 financial records, including credit card numbers and names. Love’s actions caused total losses in excess of $5 million.” In addition to those charges, he also faces a potential additional ten years on related charges, and another potential 12 years, for allegedly hacking into the US Federal Reserve Bank.
The Courage Foundation, which officially undertook his support earlier this year, has written a concise guideline, with examples, of how to write a letter of support; it does not ask that you claim he is innocent or guilty; it asks only that you write and say that you believe extradition to be unwarranted, and why. And it’s not limited to the UK: Americans in particular are also encouraged to write to their elected representatives, who, after all, are the government requesting the extradition.
UK hacking sentences are consistently less strident than US ones: while Jeremy Hammond had the ill luck to be arrested in the US (and is serving ten years, thanks to a plea deal that spared him decades longer), his AntiSec team mate Jake Davis from the UK received only a sentence of 24 months, of which he served only 38 days in custody, having been tagged electronically while on bail, and this time was deducted from his sentence.