May 20, 2019

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Russian Accused of Hacking U.S. Technology Firms Is Extradited

Russian Accused of Hacking U.S. Technology Firms Is Extradited
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In fighting Mr. Nikulin’s extradition to the United States, his lawyer had argued that the case against him was politically motivated. The Russian government argued separately that it had jurisdiction in the case after a Moscow court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Nikulin in November 2016 in the 2009 theft of $3,450 via a website called WebMoney.

More broadly, the Kremlin claims that the United States has unfairly targeted Russians around the world for political purposes. The Russian ambassador in Prague has said the case against Mr. Nikulin was an effort to “extend the jurisprudence of American law to the territory of third countries.”

This year, Spain extradited to the United States two Russians suspected of hacking. Another Russian, Aleksandr V. Vinnik, is being held in Greece pending extradition requests from Washington and Moscow.

Mr. Nikulin’s extradition was ordered by the Czech Ministry of Justice on Thursday.

The charges were laid out in an indictment unsealed after he was arrested. He is accused of hacking into the computer networks at LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring; damaging computers used by LinkedIn and Formspring employees; and using their credentials for further intrusions.

The charges include three counts of computer intrusion, two counts of causing damage to a protected computer, two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of trafficking and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, Mr. Nikulin could be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison and fined more than $1 million.

Mr. Nikulin’s arrest and court filings related to the case offered an early look into the shadowy world of Russian hacking. The American authorities say Russian hackers are able to act with impunity as long as they do not choose targets within their own country.

The competing extradition claims by the United States and Russia caused a schism in the Czech government. President Milos Zeman, who has openly courted President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, pressed the Kremlin’s case. Andrej Babis, the acting prime minister, whose affinities lean more toward the West and NATO, said publicly that Mr. Nikulin should be sent to the United States.

On a visit to Prague this week, Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker, argued that “we have every reason to believe and expect that Mr. Nikulin will be extradited to America.”

“The United States has the case to prevail on having him extradited, whether it’s the severity of the crime, which is clearly on the side of U.S., or the timing of the request for the extradition,” Mr. Ryan told reporters on Tuesday.

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