Silk Road administrator can be extradited to US, Supreme Court rules

Gary Davis, from Wicklow, could face life sentence if found guilty on drugs charges

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the extradition to the United States of a Co Wicklow man, alleged to be an administrator of the Silk Road website which dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software.

Gary Davis of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow will now 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 suffers from both a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. If convicted in the US Mr Davis could receive a life sentence.

This morning, in a unanimous decision, 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 dismissed his appeal aimed at preventing his extradition to the US.


Giving the court’s decision Mr Justice McKechnie said the court was satisfied that Mr Davis had not established 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.

Mr Davis was present in court for the decision.

The Court granted his lawyers a 48-hour stay on his surrender to allow his lawyers advise him on the judgement and to consider a possible referral of the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Members of his family were visibly upset after the court delivered its judgment.

Mr Davis’s extradition was ordered by the High Court 2016 and in March 2017 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 Ó Dúlacháin SC and John Peart SC said 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.

It was also claimed there was 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 it was also argued.

The Attorney General opposed the appeal and argued there is nothing to prevent Mr Davis’s 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. 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.