- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 13, 2016

An Irishman accused of helping run the defunct Silk Road website was approved for extradition to the U.S. on Friday to stand trial for drug, hacking and money laundering charges related to what American prosecutors called “a sprawling black-market bazaar.”

Justice Paul McDermott of Ireland’s High Court authorized the extradition in an 89-page ruling published Friday nearly three years after Wicklow resident Gary Davis was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for charges connected to the website, an online marketplace where hard drugs and other contraband were bought and sold with Bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency.

Mr. Davis, 27, is expected to appeal the ruling, The Irish Times reported.

Under the handle “Libertas,” U.S. prosecutors believe Mr. Davis held a paid position as one of the website’s online administrators, “monitoring user activity on Silk Road for problems, responding to customer service inquiries and resolving disputes between buyers and vendors,” according to the indictment unsealed in December 2013. He’s been charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, and faces life imprisonment if convicted.

Attorneys for Mr. Davis told the High Court that their client suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and depression, and could potentially resort to suicide if extradited to the U.S. where, they argue, he would likely be subjected to inhuman and degrading conditions courtesy of the American prison system.

“The court is satisfied that the United States authorities will act to protect his mental and physical health and take the appropriate steps to address any symptoms of depression of continuing anxiety by appropriate treatment and take such steps as are appropriate and necessary to accommodate him safely as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome within the prison system,” Justice McDermott wrote, adding it was an “unfortunate fact of life” that individuals at risk of suicide are occasionally incarcerated.

Juan Mendez, the special rapporteur on torture for the United Nations, told the high court previously that he had concerns about extraditing Mr. Davis to an American prison, and possibly placing him in isolation, because it would likely worsen his mental health.

Silk Road was launched in 2011 and was shut down two years later in tandem with the arrest of its alleged administrator, Ross Ulbricht. A jury later convicted Ulbricht, 31, of multiple counts related to the website, and he was sentenced in 2015 to life without parole. He is currently serving time at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York while his attorneys pursue an appeal.
Attempts to reach Mr. Davis were not immediately successful.

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