Monday 19 August 2019

Alleged 'Silk Road' administrator fails in bid to halt extradition

Gary Davis Picture: Collins
Gary Davis Picture: Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the extradition to the US of a Wicklow man who is alleged to be an administrator of the Silk Road website facilitating the sale of illegal drugs and hacking software.

Gary Davis of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, will now face trial in the US on charges including conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He had opposed his extradition on grounds including that he suffers from a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome.  If convicted in the US Mr Davis could receive a life sentence.

On Wednesday, a five-judge Supreme Court dismissed his appeal aimed at preventing his extradition to the US. 

Mr Justice William McKechnie, giving the unanimous judgment, said the court was satisfied that Mr Davis had not established that there was a real risk that his fundamental rights would be infringed if extradited to the US.

The court had been asked to consider several points of general public importance.  These included that, in the context of an extradition hearing, if the State was constitutionally obliged to protect vulnerable persons suffering from mental illness, and in what circumstances under that duty, should an extradition request be refused. 

It was also asked that if Mr Davis's condition was so severe that he should not be extradited to the US. 

The Judge said there is a constitutional obligation on the State to protect all persons in the context of an extradition applications, and not just those suffering from mental illnesses.

It was for the person whose extradition is sought to establish that there are substantive grounds for believing that if extradited there is a real risk of being subjected to degrading behaviour.

Having reviewed all the evidence Mr Davis had not demonstrated such a risk. 

The Judge said Mr Davis's case differed from a UK decision where a British Court had refused to extradite Lauri Love who was wanted in the US to stand trial for a series of alleged cyber-attacks. 

The court said that in the case of Mr Love, who also suffers from Asperger' Syndrome, the evidence was much stronger in regard to the effect on his mental health and the risk of suicide if extradited. 

This contrasted to Mr Davis's case where there had been an absence of evidence that Mr Davis had undergone treatment or counselling for depression or anxiety. He had also not attended at specialists for therapy for his Asperger's Syndrome. 

The Judge also said Mr Davis had failed to show any error in law made by the High Court in this case. 

Mr Davis was present in court for the decision.

The Court granted his lawyers a 48-hour stay on his surrender to allow his lawyers advise him on the judgement and to consider a possible referral of the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Members of his family were visibly upset after the court delivered its judgment. 

His extradition was ordered by the High Court 2016 and in March 2017 his appeal against that order was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Davis claimed that if extradited he will be detained in an inhumane and degrading manner in a US detention centre.

The Attorney General opposed the appeal and argued there is nothing to prevent Mr Davis's extradition.

The US authorities claim Mr Davis was an administrator of the Silk Road website using the pseudonym “Libertas" between June 2013 and October 2013.  Mr Davis had an "explicit knowledge of the items for sale on the website" they also allege.

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