US extradite former President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli

Yesterday, the US State Department approved Panama’s request for the extradition of their former President Ricardo Martinelli. Mr Martinelli has been held in a Miami jail since last year after Panama requested his extradition to face charges of spying. Panama alleges that Mr Martinelli used public money to spy on more than 150 of his political rivals between 2009 and 2014. Mr Martinelli has maintained that he is not guilty, has expressed belief that the US will protect him whilst he helps the US authorities investigate cross-border crimes and has claimed that current President of Panama, Mr Juan Carlos Varela is attacking his reputation on political grounds.

Most senior US Representative expects to win battle for extradition of Russian hacker

The speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan has said that he expects the Czech Republic to find in favour of a US request for the extradition of accused Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin, which is up against a competing request for his extradition from Russia. The US accuses Nikulin of hacking into file-hosting site Dropbox and social networks LinkedIn and Formspring in 2012-13, whereas Russia suspects him of involvement in a $2,000 electronic theft in 2009.

Czech Prime Minister Babis has supported the US extradition request, setting him at odds with his president Milos Zeman who is said to support the Russian claim.

US seeks extradition of cannabis seed seller from UK

The US is seeking the extradition of Gypsy Nirvana, a British businessman, from the UK to face trial on charges relating to the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis seeds. A UK Court dismissed the request in X, on the grounds that his seed business was not illegal in the UK, and the US is now appealing that decision.

The US investigation into Nirvana began in 2013, while he was living in the Philippines. He was detained there for 30 months, until the UK embassy eventually secured his return to the UK.

US withdraws extradition request for Lauri Love

The US has withdrawn its request that the UK extradite Lauri Love, who is charged by the US with hacking into several government agencies and stealing large amounts of data in 2012 and 2013. However, the US agreed with the UK High Court’s recent finding that extradition would be oppressive to Mr Love’s mental and physical health (see previous blog).

Mr Love still faces prosecution in the UK, but with a substantially lower sentence if found guilty.

UK court upholds Lauri Love’s appeal against extradition to the US

The UK High Court has upheld Lauri Love’s appeal against his extradition to the United States, in Love v United States [2018] EWHC 172 (Admin). Mr Love is accused by the US of conducting a series of cyber-attacks against private companies and US government agencies, including NASA, the Department of Defence, and the Federal Reserve.

In its judgment, the Court accepted both of Love’s key arguments. First, it agreed that the high threshold for barring extradition on the grounds that it would be oppressive were met in Mr Love’s case. It noted he would be at high risk of suicide if extradited, and that putting him on suicide watch was itself “likely to have a seriously adverse effect on his very vulnerable and unstable mental and physical wellbeing”.

Second, the Court also agreed that Mr Love’s case met the threshold for the forum bar, which prevents extradition when it would not be in the interests of justice. It said that the combination of several factors persuaded it that the forum bar applied, namely the prospect that Mr Love would be unfit to plead, the extent to which his well-being was bound up with the presence of his parents, and the fact the prosecutor provided no view on whether the UK was the most appropriate jurisdiction.

In respect of the third factor, the prosecutor is given two opportunities under s. 83 Extradition Act 2003 to express a view and the Court found that the absence of any view weighs in favour of the forum bar applying. However, it emphasised that, where the forum bar does operate to prevent extradition, prosecution in the UK should follow as a natural consequence.

The Court did not consider Articles 3 & 8 ECHR, having upheld Mr Love’s appeal on the aforementioned grounds.

US asks France to extradite man accused of facilitating 9/11 terror attacks

The US has asked France to extradite Christian Ganczarski, a German man accused by the US of providing crucial support to Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before the 9/11 terror attacks. He is currently imprisoned in France, having served 15 years of an 18 year prison sentence for his involvement in a deadly attack on a Tunisian synagogue in 2002 that led to the deaths of 21 people.

UK MPs call on government to resist US calls for extradition of Lauri Love

UK MPs have called on the government to resist US calls for the extradition of British hacking suspect Lauri Love, who faces a maximum of 99 years imprisonment if convicted in the US. Mr Love is accused by the US of engaging in cyberattacks against government websites, such as the Federal Reserve and US army, and stealing sensitive military data and the details of over 100,000 government employees.

The MPs said that Mr Love, who has Asperger syndrome, should be tried in the UK where he will likely face only a few months’ imprisonment. His lawyers have argued that the US prison system is incapable of meeting his mental and physical health needs, and there would be a high risk of him attempting suicide in the circumstances.

The High Court is due to hear Mr Love’s appeal against his extradition next week.