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But he had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out the crimes of which he stands accused.

Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US – a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Four years after his initial arrest, Love has nearly exhausted his legal options. In September 2016, a district judge refused to block Love’s deportation.

Hacking, once viewed as a kind of prank carried out by wayward geeks, is now seen as a crucial weapon by foreign governments and organised crime.

“The US must make every possible effort to pursue [Lauri Love],” says Michael Smith, a cyber-terrorism expert who provides consultancy to members of Congress and the National Security Council.

Furthermore, the case will illustrate the extent to which British judges now consider human rights when assessing deportation claims.

Love’s defence team argues that the US prison system is unable to provide their client, who suffers from depression and bouts of untreatable eczema, with a basic level of care to meet his physical and mental health needs.

He was not informed of what crimes he had allegedly committed, and was pressed into the back of an unmarked car, and driven to the police investigation centre in Bury St Edmunds.

Love’s computers, along with USB drives and old computing hardware, much of which belonged to his father, a computing enthusiast, left, too.

This time, Love’s pursuer was not the British criminal justice system, but the US government, which accused him of helping to orchestrate and wage cyber-attacks on official websites including those belonging to the Federal Reserve, Nasa and the US army between 20.

Love, they claim, along with three other unnamed co-conspirators in Australia and Sweden, stole sensitive military data and personal information belonging to more than 100,000 government employees.

When the family arrived home, they found reporters camped in their garden.

What did the journalists know that the Loves did not?

Downstairs, Love, who knew that anything said in these limbo moments of investigation could be later used against him, kept the conversation to small talk about the weather and football.


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