Yesterday Lauri Love failed in his appeal against extradition to the USA on computer hacking charges, despite his suffering from Asperger’s syndrome and being a strong suicide risk. (See https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/sep/16/computer-activist-lauri-love-loses-appeal-against-us-extradition.)

All I can add to this from my historical knowledge is the observation, which may or may not be pertinent, that this would not have been possible in Victorian times. The Victorians were always very reluctant to extradite anyone for any reason, especially if they had doubts about the judicial or penal system of the country that had sought the extradition; or if the crime could be classed as ‘political’. (Even political assassins could not be removed.) I’ve written about this before, in connexion with the Assange extradition process: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2011/02/11/bernard-porter/the-victorians-wouldn’t-have-stood-for-it/. Love would almost certainly have escaped on these grounds then.

The Assange case came under the terms of the ‘European Arrest Warrant’: a very dodgy and potentially oppressive piece of legislation, which is now attracting a great deal of opposition both country- and Europe-wide. For a start, it doesn’t require any burden of proof. People can be extradited on the mere say-so of a foreign official. (Maybe after Brexit we can opt out?) Lauri Love, on the other hand, is the victim of a particular and very unequal extradition treaty between the UK and the USA. In both cases the British government’s main motive for allowing them was to cosy up to foreign governments. This is one area in which the Victorians were immeasurably more liberal than we are.

Interestingly, one (pseudonymous) commentator on my original lrb blog post inferred from it that I must be a member of the BNP. Odd.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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