Tag Archives: Noah Swartz

Lauri Love – A Call to Action to Friends in the US

As read at the Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event, on November 5, 2016, at the request of Noah Swartz                    Free Lauri Love Website

By Mustafa Al-Bassam (friend of Lauri)

Lauri Love is a computer scientist from the UK, who was a long-time friend of Aaron Swartz. He is facing extradition to the United States for various CFAA charges, including his alleged involvement in a series of online protests that followed Aaron’s persecution and untimely death. He is being pursued by the US criminal justice system for allegedly protesting abuses of that same system, with prosecutors in three US court districts accusing Mr Love of hacking into various government websites.

In July 2015, Lauri was arrested by UK officials on the request of the US government, who had issued several indictments and corresponding extradition warrants. The FBI and Department of Justice allege that Lauri has been involved in hacking into various governmental agencies, including the US Army, NASA, the Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency. Britain’s National Crime Agency had actually arrested Lauri two years before but never found enough evidence to charge him. Now he is facing extradition to face charges in the United States.

Lauri’s case bears very close resemblance to that of Gary McKinnon’s, who fought a 10 year battle against extradition to the US. Gary was accused of hacking into US military and NASA networks. Gary ultimately won after Home Secretary Theresa May blocked the extradition due to concerns over Gary’s mental health as he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and battled with depression and anxiety.

Like Gary, Lauri is also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and suffers from depression and anxiety; he needs to be close to his family and needs health care that he would not be able to access in the US prison system. Human Rights Watch, reporting on the state of US prison conditions, has noted “disturbing delays in providing vital medical help” and “serious concerns about the overall quality of medical help for federal inmates.” I’m sure most of you are aware of the lack of adequate care in the US prison system, and those of you who have been following Chelsea’s case know how her recent suicide attempt resulted in being sentenced to solitary confinement. In the UK a suicidal inmate would instead be offered the help they require, rather than being punished. Lauri’s family has serious concerns about this as he has a long history of suicidal tendencies. If extradited, he would be thrust into a cell an ocean away from the support system that has sustained him.

On September 2016 a British Judge ruled in favor of extradition, passing the case to Secretary of State Amber Rudd. While Lauri can appeal to the High Court, the Secretary of State no longer has power to block the extradition on human rights grounds like in Gary’s case. This means that Rudd will have no choice to approve the extradition.

In light of this, and thanks to campaigning by the Courage Foundation and friends, 114 British Members of Parliament have recently signed a letter to Barack Obama to call on him to stop Lauri’s extradition. Support from the British public and politicians has been immense, but unfortunately there has been little attention bought to this case in the US, which is much needed.

If Lauri were to be extradited, even if he survived his time in prison awaiting trial, it’s likely that a sentence given to him by a US court would destroy his life. While in the UK it’s common for convicted hackers to return to a normal life within a few years, the US justice system could easily sentence Lauri to a nearly life long prison term, or fine him for an amount large enough that he would spend the rest of his life paying it back. His US charges would land him up to 99 years in prison.

I myself was threatened with extradition to the US by the FBI in 2011 due to my involvement in hacktivism. My case ultimately ended up being heard in the UK, and I ended up relatively unscathed having spent no time in jail, compared to my co-defendants in the US, including Barrett Brown and Jeremy Hammond, who are still in jail to this day. I do not wish for anyone else to become another victim of the disproportionate US justice system, including Lauri.

We call on friends in the US who are concerned about the unjust nature of the CFAA, the overly harsh US sentencing system and the mental health limitations of the US prison system to campaign and raise awareness for Lauri’s case. The US justice system has international consequences, and it would be extremely powerful if American citizens campaign in solidarity on behalf of international citizens in recognition of these harsh laws.

Please spread the word about Lauri’s case. You can find out more at freelauri.com. I hope that some of you will spend your time tonight talking about how to raise awareness for those, like Aaron, who find themselves at risk of being crushed under the US’s overly harsh, outdated, and misused hacking laws.

Op Ed By Noah Swartz: My Brother Aaron Changed the Internet Forever

My Brother Aaron Changed the Internet Forever

Noah Swartz is on the organizing team for this year’s Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon, which happens on November 8th, all over the world.

By Noah Swartz for Takepart.com

From the article:

So when mere months after his death Edward Snowden released his cache of internal NSA files, and we the public and the media all struggled to understand it and figure out what to do, it was hard not to miss Aaron immensely. It was a surprise of sorts seeing that I wasn’t the only one who looked to Aaron for guidance, and that I wasn’t the only one having a hard time without him. Remember when Wikipedia blacked out to protest SOPA/PIPA? A lot of people wondered why something similar didn’t happen in protest of the NSA, why something similar didn’t happen more recently in the fight for net neutrality. The answer, in large part, is because Aaron isn’t around anymore to do these things. To motivate and guide us.

In a deeply personal way Aaron lives on in me, but similarly his ideals live on in a whole crowd of organizations and people he collaborated with. Demand Progress is still running strong, with David Segal at its helm. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is still fighting for tech law reform, with Cindy Cohen as legal director and Peter Eckersley and Seth Schoen advising it on tech. The Freedom of the Press Foundation is supporting projects like SecureDrop, a tool Aaron helped develop to protect the anonymity of journalistic sources, and Fight for the Future is educating people about net neutrality.

Aaron Swartz International Hackathon website.