You are here
Russian hacker suspect faces US judge after Moscow snubbed
[SAN FRANCISCO] A Russian citizen accused of hacking LinkedIn and Dropbox in 2012 appeared in a US courtroom and was ordered to undergo a medical evaluation after being extradited from the Czech Republic in a move that may increase diplomatic tensions between Washington and Moscow.
Yevgeniy Nikulin, 30, who's repeatedly denied the hacking allegations, "has a number of medical issues and is hoping to go to the hospital", his public defender told a federal judge in San Francisco at a hearing Friday.
Russia sought Nikulin on separate charges, but the Czech Republic elected to send him to the US after rejecting his request for asylum, according to Czech Radio.
Russia is "deeply disappointed" by the Czech decision, which was taken "without considering all the factors and circumstances of this case," the Tass news service reported, citing the Russian embassy in Prague.
Czech justice minister Robert Pelikan said earlier that President Milos Zeman, an ardent supporter of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, had repeatedly asked him to extradite Nikulin to Moscow.
The extradition comes amid US investigations into alleged Russian cyber attacks and interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign won by Donald Trump.
Russia denies meddling in the campaign. Nikulin was indicted in California on multiple counts of computer-enabled fraud and identity theft. Czech police detained him in October 2016 after being alerted by a so-called Red Notice from Interpol.
Nikulin, one of several cyber-attack suspects arrested in Europe in a US-Russia tug-of-war, will be held in custody until a bail hearing set for Wednesday. Prosecutors told the judge Friday he has no ties to the US and that there's a serious risk he'll flee if freed.
Dressed in gray sweats and a hoodie and looking gaunt, Nikulin refused to state his name and age when questioned by the judge.
The public defender entered a plea of not guilty to a list of charges against Nikulin - the most serious of which carries a sentence of 10 years in prison - stemming from attacks on LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring, a San Francisco-based social networking company. LinkedIn and Dropbox have previously said the breaches on their servers may have compromised a combined total of almost 200 million accounts.
"The FBI will not allow international cyber criminals to operate with impunity," FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett said in a statement.
"Nikulin allegedly targeted three Bay Area companies through cyber-attacks, and will now face prosecution in the US This extradition is a success for US law enforcement and our partners overseas."