Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

An Irishman accused of helping run the Silk Road underground website lost an appeal on Tuesday against extradition to the United States to face charges relating to more than US$200 million worth of alleged anonymous online drug sales.

Silk Road operated for more than two years, allowing users to buy drugs and other illicit goods using the digital currency bitcoin.

US authorities have accused Gary Davis, 28, of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He might face life in prison if is found guilty of the narcotics charge.

Ireland’s Court of Appeal said it was alleged that Davis, who was not obliged to make a plea as part of the extradition hearing, earned US$1,500 a week for his services on Silk Road.

Lawyers for Davis had argued that the judge who ordered his extradition last year made a mistake in deciding that mental health conditions including Asperger’s syndrome, depression and anxiety did not give rise to a real risk of a violation of his rights under Irish and European law.

The three-judge appeal court said on Tuesday it agreed with the extradition judge’s decision that US authorities would act to protect his mental and physical health.

They said they took into account concerns that the prospect of extradition and imprisonment “would be daunting for an individual in robust mental health let alone someone coping with a significant mental health condition such Mr Davis.”

Davis, whom the United States claims was an administrator for the Silk Road website, was ordered into custody immediately as some family members and friends broke down in tears in court.

His lawyers did not indicate whether they would lodge a further appeal to Ireland’s Supreme Court.