Judgement reserved on extradition of Wicklow man linked to Silk Road website

A decision has been reserved by the Supreme Court in an appeal by a Wicklow man against an order for his extradition to the United States.

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The man is alleged by US authorities to be linked to the Silk Road website which dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software. The appeal has been brought by Gary Davis (29) of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow who is wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges including conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He opposes his extradition on grounds including that he suffers from both a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. If convicted in the US Mr Davis could receive a life sentence. His extradition was ordered by the High Court last year and in March his appeal against that order was dismissed by the Court of Appeal

The Supreme Court agreed to hear Mr Davis’s appeal against the extradition order on the grounds its raises issues of public importance. He claims 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.

In his appeal Mr Daviss, submitted the case raises issues including whether the State is constitutionally obliged to protect vulnerable persons suffering from mental illness who are the subject of an extradition request.

Cormac Ó Dúlacháin SC contended there is evidence that Mr Davis’s 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 very limited access to his family members. Given his condition this would also have a detrimental effect on Mr Davis’s mental health counsel added.

The Attorney General argues there is nothing to prevent Mr Davis’s extradition to the US.Following the conclusion of submissions the five judge court comprised of Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell, Mr Justice William McKechnie, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley reserved its decision.

Mr Davis, accompanied to court by members from his family remains on bail pending the Supreme Court’s decision. 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.

The website is said to have facilitated the sale of illicit drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and hacking software. Launched in 2011 it was run by American Ross William Ulbricht under the pseudonym ’Dread Pirate Roberts’ (DPR).

It offered anonymity to its users and trades were conducted in bitcoins. Ulbricht was arrested and charged following an investigation by the US authorities and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. Mr Davis’s alleged involvement was identified from information extracted from Mr Ulbricht’s computers following his arrest by the FBI.