Exclusive: Activist Lauri Love Speaks Out After Twitter Suspension


by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:

The activism community was shocked recently by the news that Twitter had permanently suspended UK-based activist, Lauri Love. Love recently won a landmark case in a drawn-out legal battle against extradition to the United States. Following the suspension, human rights activists commenced calls for Love’s account to be reinstated immediately, to no avail at the time of writing.

Last month, UK Judges ruled against the United States’ effort to extradite Love to the US, on the grounds that extraditing him would be: “Oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.” The finding is likely to have an ongoing effect, possibly setting legal precedent for future extradition cases.

FairTrials.org wrote of the importance of the finding: “Love was facing criminal allegations in the United States despite never having visited the country, and he also had significant mental health issues that could deteriorate considerably if he were extradited… The High Court’s ruling on Lauri Love’s case yesterday provides welcome relief and hope to UK extradition lawyers and campaigners. ”

Prior to the landmark legal ruling, FreeLauri.com related that the charges against Love stemmed from: “His alleged participation in #OpLastResort, the series of online protests that followed the persecution and untimely death of Aaron Swartz.” The site also reports that Love was pursued by the US criminal justice system for: “Allegedly protesting abuses of that same system, with prosecutors in three US court districts accusing Lauri of hacking into various government websites.”

This highlight an issue which corporate media outlets are loathe to discuss. That is, the alleged activities represented a protest against a corrupt Judicial system. Instead of being described as an activist, Lauri is often portrayed by the press as a cyber terrorist.

Love’s successful fight against extradition to the United States might not have been possible if Twitter’s decision to suspend his account had come a mere six months earlier. In a conversation with Disobedient Media, Love explained his anger at the ban, as well as the implications it has for other activists to gain public support. Love described the situation to this author:

“It’s absurd, is clearly the result of malicious reporting (ie, gaming the abuse system) and it has ultimately benefited obnoxious interests of people like Louise Mensch and those running political troll and bot accounts.”

“It is especially troubling as an activist, who has recently depended heavily on the platform to organize a campaign which help narrowly save my entire life from being destroyed by extradition to the USA –had this malicious reporting been successful six months or a year ago then I might not be here now because we may have lost our legal battle as a result of not being able to organise and engage in outreach.

Silencing of activists by highly powerful centralisers of internet usage, who treat their users like product and go out of their ways to pamper advertisers and governments is incredibly troubling from the point of view of internet freedoms, and democratic values more generally.”

The censorship imposed on Love is extremely important, and as he points out, could have had a concrete impact on his ability to fight against extradition if differently timed. Such a suspension would have cut him from the support of over ten thousand followers on Twitter. In this way, social media censorship can absolutely represent a political tactic used to inflict real-life consequences for those affected, far beyond the inability to post a few pithy soundbites.

This is also true of Twitter’s ongoing, inexplicable unwillingness to verify the account of Julian Assange, leaving mediocre journalists from legacy media outlets to stupidly or maliciously misattribute sentiments to Assange that are published by a series of endless copy-cat accounts, which Assange has likened to a ‘black PR campaign.’

Twitter’s latest crackdown illustrates a blatant, two-tiered application of the Twitter rules on the platform which is plainly visible in a recent exchange between Love and John Podesta. Podesta served as Chief of Staff for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign. He previously served in Bill Clinton’s Administration as Chief of Staff, as well as a role in the Obama Whitehouse as as a Counselor to the President. The contrast here between Podesta as a political insider versus Love, an activist opposed to the corrupt system Podesta inhabits, and whom the State has attempted to prosecute, is stark.

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