Prague (AFP) – The Czech Republic on Friday said it had extradited a Russian hacker to the United States where he is wanted for alleged cyberattacks on social networks.
Yevgeniy Nikulin, who is also sought by his native Russia on fraud charges, had been in a Prague prison since he was arrested in the Czech capital in 2016 in a joint operation with the FBI.
The case comes amid accusations by Washington that Russia sought to “interfere” through hacking in the 2016 US election won by Donald Trump, charges the Kremlin has dismissed.
The Czech justice ministry “confirms the extradition of Russian citizen Y. Nikulin to the United States,” ministry spokeswoman Tereza Schejbalova said on Twitter.
The extradition “took place overnight,” she added.
A US government plane left Prague soon after midnight Thursday and landed nine hours later near Washington, according to the website flightaware.com
Following Nikulin’s arrest, Moscow accused Washington of harassing its citizens and vowed to fight Nikulin’s extradition.
It then issued a separate arrest warrant for him over alleged theft from the WebMoney settlement system.
The US has charged Nikulin with hacking into social networks LinkedIn and Formspring and into the file hosting service Dropbox, Nikulin’s lawyer Martin Sadilek told AFP at the time.
He also said Nikulin alleges that FBI investigators had tried twice to persuade him to confess to cyberattacks on the US Democratic Party.
Last year, a Prague court ruled that Nikulin could be extradited to either Russia or the United States, with the final say left to the Czech justice minister.
In Russia, Senator Igor Morozov slammed Prague’s move, telling state news agency Ria Novosti that Moscow “will demand his return to our country and it is up to the Russian judiciary to decide whether Nikulin has violated the law or to punish him.”
“It is time to stop this law of the American jungle,” added the senator, known to comment on international affairs.
Alexey Kolmakov, the spokesman of the Russian Embassy in Prague, said that the Czech Republic, an EU and NATO member, “once again preferred (to demonstrate) its notorious solidarity with its American ally.”