Czech Republic Extradites Russian Hacker to U.S.

An alleged Russian hacker wanted by both Washington and Moscow has been extradited to the United States, Reuters reported.

Yevgeny Nikulin is accused of hacking big Internet companies including LinkedIn and Dropbox in 2012 and 2013. In the United States, he faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on charges that include computer intrusion and identity theft.

But his case became an international tug-of-war when Russia made a rival extradition request shortly after the United States put forward its request. In Russia, Nikulin is wanted for alleged involvement in an online theft of about $2,000 in 2009.

“We confirm extradition to the United States,” a spokeswoman for the Czech Justice Ministry said in a text message sent to Reuters. “He has already flown out.”

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan made the decision after the country’s top court said it rejected a last-minute appeal from the Russian.

During a visit to the Czech Republic, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on March 27 in Prague that “we have every reason to believe and expect that Nikulin will be extradited to America.”

In an interview with RFE/RL in Prague on March 26, Ryan said that the “case for extraditing [Nikulin] to America versus Russia is extremely clear.”

“He did violate our laws, he did hack these companies…. So the extradition claim is very legitimate,” he said. “And I just expect that the Czech system will go through its process, and at the end of that process, I am hopeful and expecting that he’ll be extradited.”

The tug-of-war over Nikulin had led to some friction in the Czech government.

Babis has said Nikulin should be extradited to the United States. But Pelikan had said that President Milos Zeman — known for his relatively pro-Kremlin views — has advocated handing the suspected hacker over to Russia.

Nikulin’s lawyer said his client claimed the FBI is trying to link him to the hacking of the Democratic Party’s servers during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.