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British lawmakers ask Obama to let hacking suspect face trial in UK

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of 105 British members of parliament (MPs) have asked President Barack Obama to withdraw a warrant for the extradition of an autistic Briton who is accused of hacking high-security U.S. state computers.

Lauri Love reacts as he leaves after attending his extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Britain September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

Lauri Love, 31, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of involvement in a series of hacks in 2012 and 2013 into computers at agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. army, the Missile Defense Agency and the Federal Reserve.

A London court approved his extradition in September despite warnings from his family, lawyers and supporters that he would be at risk of killing himself if sentenced to a lifetime in a U.S. prison.

In a letter to Obama, the 105 MPs from the ruling Conservative Party, the main opposition Labour Party and several other parties said they were deeply concerned about the case.

“Mr Love should face prosecution for any crimes committed in his own country where his suicide risk is exponentially reduced,” the lawmakers wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent to media on Monday.

“We urge you to carry out an act of compassion in your final days as President by withdrawing Mr Love’s extradition warrant.”

U.S. authorities say Love was connected to Anonymous, an international group of hackers, and that his actions had caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

The MPs argued in their letter that he should face any charges in Britain, pointing to new rules that make it easier for British courts to try people for crimes committed there but involving other countries.

They said Britain had prosecuted at least 12 people accused of hacking U.S.-based computer systems.

“Why then is the United States insistent on Mr Love’s extradition despite the UK having a proven track record of appropriately sentencing and rehabilitating individuals who have committed computer hacking offences against the U.S.?” they asked.

The MPs said Love had a long history of serious mental health issues including depression and episodes of psychosis, and that he also suffered from anxiety-induced eczema that was resistant to antibiotics and very hard to manage.

“Consequently, there is significant concern that Mr Love’s physical and mental well-being would deteriorate and become unmanageable if he were extradited,” the MPs wrote, adding that they had “no doubt in mind” that he would be at high risk of suicide.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Tom Heneghan