The Irish High Court has ordered the extradition to the United States of Gary Davis, a 27-year-old from Johnstown Court in Kilpedder, Co. Wicklow, who is alleged to have been an administrator of the Silk Road website that dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software.
He is wanted by US authorities on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Squeezed but pleased
The judge, Mr Justice Paul McDermott, 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.
Mr Davis, who claims he suffers from a form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome and depression, had opposed the request claiming the extradition request was flawed, lacked clarity and the details of the charges against him were vague, as well as stating that if extradited he will be detained in an inhuman and degrading manner.
During the hearing, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Juan Mendez, expressed his concerns about conditions at the facility in New York City, the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC), where Mr Davis is likely to be held if he is extradited to the US.
Mr Davis's lawyers argued Prof. Mendez had raised issues about the negative effects on Mr Davis's mental health if he were to be held in isolation at a special housing unit within the MCC.
The State rejected all points raised by Mr Davis.
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 could 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.
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 Asperger's Syndrome within the prison system.
Slick road of Silk Road
The Silk Road, which was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013, was an underground website that hosted a black market on a part the internet better known as the dark web.
Mr Davis is accused of acting as a site administrator on the Silk Road website using the name 'Libertas' which was launched in 2011. It was claimed to be created and run by American Ross William Ulbricht under the pseudonym 'Dread Pirate Roberts' (DPR) although there is lots of evidence that has since come to light that disputes these allegations.
Ulbricht had been charged and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment in what some regard as an unfair trial and a miscarriage of justice as there is still a lot of unanswered questions about his true involvement in all this, as well as ongoing allegations of corruption involving FBI agents who were investigating.
Dr Paul Ennis who has worked on the Silk Road case and the problematic aspects of the trial of Ross Ulbricht stated:
“I admit to being worried about the possibility of Gary receiving a fair trial. In the trial of Ross Ulbricht exceptionally important information was withheld, up to and including the fact that two investigators of the case turned out to be corrupt. Further Gary faces life imprisonment potentially in a maximum security prison and this punishment seems vastly out of proportion with his alleged role.”
Ennis, a lecturer in the Quinn School of Business, University College Dublin further stressed that studies have shown drug-related violence had been reduced while the Silk Road had been operating.
You can find out more info about the background to the the whole Silk Road case and details of an appeal at www.FreeRoss.org.
Mr Davis, who was present in court, was remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison and it is expected he will appeal the decision. If convicted in the US Mr Davis could receive a life sentence.