Hong Kong’s first refusal of a US extradition bid

Yesterday, a US Department of State Annual report revealed that in October 2017, the leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, refused to extradite a detainee to the US. The detainee was placed in custody, in mainland China, and extradition was refused on the basis that Beijing was pursuing the detainee in relation to a separate criminal matter. This is the first time Hong Kong has refused to extradite a detainee to the US since the UK transferred sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997. So far, the details of the Chinese criminal matter and the identity of the detainee remain unknown.

However, the South China Morning Post has uncovered evidence of a broken extradition negotiation in the New York bribery case of Patrick Ho Chi-ping, a former Hong Kong Home Affairs Minister. In that case Iat Hong, a hacker, was arrested in Hong Kong in December 2016. Hong was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for hacking into unnamed New York law firms as part of an organised hacking group that made more than 4 million US dollars. The US tried to extradite Hong, but the extradition negotiation broke down in October 2017.

In 1997 Hong Kong and the US created a bilateral agreement which has resulted in Hong Kong being able to extradite detainees to the US, however the US and China do not currently share an extradition treaty. In the case of Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the US prosecutors explained that the agreement between Hong Kong and the US contains an exception that “relates to the defence, foreign affairs, or essential public interest or policy of [China]”.

 

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.

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.