Stradishall activist faces US hacking charges

Lauri Love photographed during an Occupy protest at Glasgow University ENGANL00120131029104338
Lauri Love photographed during an Occupy protest at Glasgow University ENGANL00120131029104338

A Stradishall man has been charged with hacking into US Federal Reserve computers and stealing personal information.

Lauri Love, 28, was arrested in October by the National Crime Agency over charges which include allegations he hacked US military and NASA computers.

Love,of Ash Walk, was in October released on police bail until February.

Now indictments for one count of computer hacking and of aggravated identity theft have been revealed in Manhattan Federal Court in New York and Love could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison if he is convicted.

Love’s solicitor Karen Todner, who specialises in extradition and fraud, tweeted last week: “US indictment published against Lauri Love. He remains on bail in the UK where we hope these matters will be resolved.”

She says that as her client is being investigated by the e-crime section of the UK National Crime Agency, he should be tried in this country if he is charged here.

Ms Todner has previously represented high profile clients such as the ‘Pentagon hacker’ Gary McKinnon.

She has also represented Occupy London SX. Love took part in Occupy Glasgow protests in 2011.

A Haverhill Echo sister paper, The Scotsman investigated what Love’s fellow students remember about him.

Everone involved in the ­eight-month occupation of the Hetherington Building at Glasgow University in 2011 remembers Lauri Love.

Though not formally a leader of the high-profile campaign against the cuts, the then 26-year-old physics student was always at the front, leading the charge, with little thought of the long-term consequences.

Those who knew him best describe him as ideologically motivated, but also narcissistic, messianic even. “He would always want to be the guy on the megaphone,” says one former acquaintance.

“He was horrified by inequality and the terrible things that happen in the world; he very much wanted to be part of changing that, perhaps to be a hero. But he had a low capacity for judging risk, never stopping to consider if what he was doing might be illegal or, if it was illegal, how much trouble he would get himself into. He was a bit of a loose cannon really.”

Some recalled him as a disruptive influence, others as a egotist with a “dismissive” attitude towards women.

Those who were holed up with him for months at a time say he was a man of intense fixations. “He was the kind of guy who would read a book about, say, the Labour Party’s Militant Tendency – and for a week that would be all he talked about; then the next week it might be a book about Mao and he would be a Maoist,” said another former acquaintance.

With the US government expected to seek his extradition, a support campaign is already gathering momentum. The mothers of Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer, both of whom successfully fought the extradition of their sons on hacking charges, have complained the US government is targeting “geeks”, and a Facebook page – No Love for the US – has been set up to oppose any handover.