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Thursday 20 September 2018

Alleged Silk Road site administrator can be sent to the US for trial

Gary Davis will face trial in the US over the Silk Road website. Photo: Collins
Gary Davis will face trial in the US over the Silk Road website. Photo: Collins

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the extradition to the US of a Wicklow man, all-eged to be an administrator of the Silk Road website that dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software.

Gary Davis, of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow, will 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 has a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome. If convicted in the US, he could receive a life sentence.

Infringed

Yesterday morning, in what was a unanimous decision, the five-judge court comprising Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell, Mr Justice William McKechnie, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley dismissed his appeal aimed at preventing his extradition.

Giving the court's decision, Mr Justice McKechnie said it was satisfied Mr Davis had not established that there was a real risk that his fundamental rights would be infringed if extradited to the US.

All grounds of the appeal were rejected by the court, and the judge said Mr Davis had failed to show any error in law made by the High Court in this case.

The court granted Mr Davis' lawyers a 48-hour stay on his surrender to allow them to advise him on the judgment, and to consider a possible referral to the European Court of Human Rights.

Members of his family were visibly upset with the judgment.

Mr Davis' extradition was ordered by the High Court in 2016.

In March the following year his appeal against that order was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Davis claimed that if he is extradited he will be detained in an inhumane and degrading manner in a US detention centre and in breach of his rights under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights to bodily integrity and his right to life.

Mr Davis, represented by Cormac O Dulachain and John Peart, said the case raises issues including whether the State is constitutionally obliged to protect vulnerable, mentally ill persons who are the subject of an extradition request.

It was also claimed there is evidence that Mr Davis' mental condition would deteriorate, including that he may become suicidal, if held at a US facility where he would have no assurances about what treatment would be available to him.

If detained in the US for a lengthy period, Mr Davis, who has a high dependency on his family, would have very limited access to relatives.

Given his condition, this would also have a detrimental effect on his mental health, it was argued.

Pseudonym

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

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

The website is said to have facilitated the anonymous sale of illicit drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine and crystal meth, and hacking software.

Launched in 2011, it was run by American Ross William Ulbricht under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR). He was sentenced to life imprisonment by US authorities.

Mr Davis' alleged involvement was identified from information extracted from Ulbricht's computers.

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