The High Court has ordered the extradition to the United States of a Wicklow man alleged to have been an administrator of the Silk Road website that dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software.
Gary Davis, aged 27, of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow, is wanted for trial by US authorities on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
On a detailed judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott ruled that Mr Davis be surrendered to the US. The judge rejected all grounds of Mr Davis’s opposition to the request, including that his Constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights would be breached.
After the verdict, Mr Davis embraced friends and family in the court. He was remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison and can apply for bail in the event an appeal being lodged.
Mr Davis, who claims he suffers from depression and a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome, had opposed the request. Among his points of objection, he says that, if extradited, he will be detained in an inhuman and degrading manner. If convicted in the US, Mr Davis could receive a life sentence.
In his judgment Mr Justice McDermott said the central issue in the case was the objections to the request based on Mr Davis’s health. The evidence before the court, the judge said, did not establish the high threshold of ill health and risk to life required to justify a refusal to extradite him. He said it was not the law that a person suffering from health conditions can not be imprisoned in Ireland or extradited to another country simply because imprisonment would give rise to changes in environment or disturbance in routine or removal from family.
Persons suffering from Aspergers can be tried and sentenced for a criminal offence in Ireland and the courts have imposed sentences on elderly persons, young people with serious psychological or addiction problems, and people who are otherwise ill.
Judge McDermott said he was not satisfied that there were substantial grounds for believing that Davis would be exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment while in the US prison system.
The court was satisfied that the US authorities would act to protect Mr Davis’s mental and physical well-being and take appropriate steps to address any symptoms of depression and anxiety. He would be accommodated as a person with AS within the prison system.
In his ruling, the judge noted the concerns expressed by Mr Davis about conditions at the facility in New York City, known as the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC), where he is likely to be held following his extradition.
Mr Davis claimed that, because of his medical condition, his mental health would deteriorate and his life would be at risk if he were to be held in isolation at a special housing unit within the MCC. The judge expressed his concern that Mr Davis is not in receipt of any ongoing medical provision or treatment for depression and that he had failed to engage with people who could provide therapy.
The Silk Road, which was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013, was an underground website that hosted a “sprawling black market bazaar” on the internet.
Mr Davis is accused of acting as a site administrator on the Silk Road website using the name ‘Libertas’. It was launched in 2011. It was created and run by American Ross William Ulbricht under the pseudonym ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’. Ulbricht was charged and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. The site offered anonymity to users, where trades were conducted in the online currency bitcoins.
US authorities claim that, between June 2013 and October 2013, Mr Davis was an administrator of the website and had an “explicit knowledge of the items for sale on the website”.
The drugs available included heroin, LSD, cocaine, and amphetamines.
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