Most senior US Representative expects to win battle for extradition of Russian hacker

The speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan has said that he expects the Czech Republic to find in favour of a US request for the extradition of accused Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin, which is up against a competing request for his extradition from Russia. The US accuses Nikulin of hacking into file-hosting site Dropbox and social networks LinkedIn and Formspring in 2012-13, whereas Russia suspects him of involvement in a $2,000 electronic theft in 2009.

Czech Prime Minister Babis has supported the US extradition request, setting him at odds with his president Milos Zeman who is said to support the Russian claim.

Puigdemont & Ponsati face court hearings in battle against extradition to Spain

A German court has ruled that the requirements to detain exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont are met by the European Arrest Warrant for him issued by Spain. The Court has also denied him bail, after finding that he had a “strong incentive” to attempt travel to Belgium where he may have a better chance of fighting extradition. Mr Puigdemont was arrested in Germany on Friday, while attempting to travel between Finland and Belgium, and a final decision on his extradition must now be made within 90 days (see previous blog).

At the same time, former Catalan education secretary Carla Ponsati, who like Puigdemont left Spain in October last year, has agreed to turn herself in to police in Scotland where she had returned to a teaching post at St Andrews University. As with Mr Puigdemont, she is wanted by Spain on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont arrested in Germany as Spain issues arrest warrants for former ministers

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain for Belgium in October last year, has been arrested in Germany and is due to appear in court to decide whether he should remain in custody. He is wanted in Spain to face charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds.

On Friday, Spain also issued European Arrest Warrants for 5 former Catalan ministers. One of whom is Clara Ponsatí, who was Catalan minister of education under Puigdemont and is currently an economist at St Andrews University in Scotland. She also left Spain in October, and the university has said that it is “committed to protect and support her”.

Greek court rejects 3rd Turkish request for extradition of 8 soldiers

For the third time, a Greek Court has rejected a request from Turkey for the extradition of 8 soldiers it accuses of being involved in the July 16 attempted coup against President Erdogan. The court found that the charges against the 8, including attempted murder, involvement in an armed terrorist group, and involvement in the coup itself, were vague and had not changed nor been supported by new evidence since Turkey’s previous 2 failed attempts to secure their extradition. It also found that they were at risk of receiving an unfair trial in Turkey, and of being subjected to inhumane treatment.

Top Czech Republic court halts extradition of alleged Russian hacker

The Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court, its highest forum for constitutional matters, has halted the extradition of alleged Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin to either the US or Russia until it rules on a complaint filed by his lawyers. The nature of the complaint has not been made public, but Mr Nikulin has no appeals left.

Mr Nikulin was arrested in the Czech Republic in 2016 and is accused by the US of hacking into file-hosting site Dropbox and social networks LinkedIn and Formspring in 2012-13, whereas Russia suspects him of involvement in a $2,000 electronic theft in 2009. He has argued that he would not receive a fair trial in the US.

The Czech Republic’s Minister of Justice Robert Pelikan, who is to decide between on the competing extradition requests after the courts ruled them both lawful, has said that he will base his decision on where the most serious crimes were committed. Mr Pelikan has said that the Czech Republic’s president Milos Zeman asked him to export Nikulin to Russia “repeatedly and vehemently”, but that he was not swayed by the request.

Irish High Court halts Polish extradition request over rule of law fears and refers it to the ECJ

The Irish High Court has halted Poland’s request for the extradition of Artur Celmer, a Polish citizen wanted by Poland on charges of drug-trafficking, and referred the case to the ECJ for guidance.

In her ruling, Justice Aileen Donnelly said that the rule of law in Poland “has been systematically damaged” by cumulative legislative changes and that respect for the rule of law was essential “for mutual trust in the operation of the European Arrest Warrant”.

At the end of last year, the European Commission concluded that there was “a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland” after judicial reforms in Poland meant that, in its view, the country’s judiciary was “now under the political control of the ruling majority” (EU press release here). The ruling is a significant and, arguably, unprecedented indictment by a national court of the legal system in another State, which no doubt will be used to challenge Polish EAWs in many other jurisdictions.

 

US seeks extradition of cannabis seed seller from UK

The US is seeking the extradition of Gypsy Nirvana, a British businessman, from the UK to face trial on charges relating to the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis seeds. A UK Court dismissed the request in X, on the grounds that his seed business was not illegal in the UK, and the US is now appealing that decision.

The US investigation into Nirvana began in 2013, while he was living in the Philippines. He was detained there for 30 months, until the UK embassy eventually secured his return to the UK.