US beats Russia in battle for extradition of suspected hacker from Czech Republic

Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian man accused by the US of hacking into file-hosting site Dropbox and social networks LinkedIn and Formspring in 2012-13, has been extradited to the US and is due to appear in court today for a detention hearing. Nikulin was the subject of competing claims from the US and Russia for his extradition from the Czech Republic, having been accused by Russia of the much less serious crime of involvement in a $2,000 electronic theft in 2009 (see previous blog).

It is the not the first time that Russia has lodged a competing extradition claim when one of its nationals is facing extradition. If convicted in the US, Nikulin could receive a custodial sentence of several decades.

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.

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.

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.

Czech Republic to extradite Russian hacker to wherever his most serious crimes were committed

The Czech Republic’s Minister of Justice Robert Pelikan, who is to decide between competing Russian and US extradition requests for alleged Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin, has said that he will base his decision on where the most serious crimes were committed. Speaking to Czech legislators, he also said he would take into account which request was made first.

Both of these factors appear to work in the favour of the US, which accuses Nikulin of more serious crimes and made its extradition request before Russia. The US accuses him 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.

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.

US withdraws extradition request for Lauri Love

The US has withdrawn its request that the UK extradite Lauri Love, who is charged by the US with hacking into several government agencies and stealing large amounts of data in 2012 and 2013. However, the US agreed with the UK High Court’s recent finding that extradition would be oppressive to Mr Love’s mental and physical health (see previous blog).

Mr Love still faces prosecution in the UK, but with a substantially lower sentence if found guilty.

Suspected Russian fraudster wanted by the US arrested in Thailand

Sergey Medvedev, a Russian man accused by the United States of founding online criminal network Infraud Organisation, has been arrested in Thailand and is facing extradition to the US. Infraud Organisation is said to have facilitated identity theft and fraud, allowing its members to trade financial information such as stolen credit card details. The US has stated that Infraud cost victims £380m between its founding in October 2010 and being shut down this month.

An official from Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division, Nuthapon Rattanamongkolsak, said that he expected Mr Medvedev, who has “no real job” in Thailand, to be extradited within a month.

UK court upholds Lauri Love’s appeal against extradition to the US

The UK High Court has upheld Lauri Love’s appeal against his extradition to the United States, in Love v United States [2018] EWHC 172 (Admin). Mr Love is accused by the US of conducting a series of cyber-attacks against private companies and US government agencies, including NASA, the Department of Defence, and the Federal Reserve.

In its judgment, the Court accepted both of Love’s key arguments. First, it agreed that the high threshold for barring extradition on the grounds that it would be oppressive were met in Mr Love’s case. It noted he would be at high risk of suicide if extradited, and that putting him on suicide watch was itself “likely to have a seriously adverse effect on his very vulnerable and unstable mental and physical wellbeing”.

Second, the Court also agreed that Mr Love’s case met the threshold for the forum bar, which prevents extradition when it would not be in the interests of justice. It said that the combination of several factors persuaded it that the forum bar applied, namely the prospect that Mr Love would be unfit to plead, the extent to which his well-being was bound up with the presence of his parents, and the fact the prosecutor provided no view on whether the UK was the most appropriate jurisdiction.

In respect of the third factor, the prosecutor is given two opportunities under s. 83 Extradition Act 2003 to express a view and the Court found that the absence of any view weighs in favour of the forum bar applying. However, it emphasised that, where the forum bar does operate to prevent extradition, prosecution in the UK should follow as a natural consequence.

The Court did not consider Articles 3 & 8 ECHR, having upheld Mr Love’s appeal on the aforementioned grounds.

Turkey refuses to extradite anyone to the US until it gets Fethullah Gulen

Turkey’s President has refused to allow any further US extradition requests until the US extradites Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is wanted by Turkey for allegedly masterminding the failed July 2016 coup.

Speaking at a conference, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused the US of having “made up excuses from thin air” for not extraditing the 76-year-old cleric. US officials have repeatedly said that their courts require sufficient evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the coup, which he has denied, before they can agree to his extradition.

Dmitry Firtash extradition from Austria to US halted for “immediate future”

An Austrian court has halted the extradition of Dmitry Firtash from Austria to the US, while it hears an application to reconsider its original extradition order. Mr Firtash is a Ukrainian billionaire linked to President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and is wanted by the US on bribery charges relating to titanium deals in India.

His lawyer told a federal Court in Chicago that it was unlikely Firtash would be extradited “in the immediate future”, having previously expected him to be extradited before the end of 2017.