A Russian hacker who was extradited from the Czech Republic on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges he hacked three US technology companies, including a data breach that may have affected more than 100 million LinkedIn users.
30-year-old Yevgeniy Nikulin fought his extradition following his arrest in Prague two years ago but ultimately lost. Both the US and Russia were looking to obtain him, although the Russia authorities only wanted him in connection with an alleged theft seven years ago that amounted to $3,450.
The Department of Justice accused Nikulin of illegally accessing computers belonging to several companies, including Dropbox, Formspring, and LinkedIn in 2012. Microsoft said the case is related to the breach that might have compromised the data to 100 million LinkedIn users — that was back when LinkedIn was a standalone company, rather than a Microsoft subsidiary.
Nikulin faces nine criminal counts, including causing damage to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft, according to Deccan Chronicle.
“Computer hacking is not just a crime, it is a direct threat to the security and privacy of Americans,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “This is deeply troubling behavior once again emanating from Russia. We will not tolerate criminal cyber-attacks and will make it a priority to investigate and prosecute these crimes, regardless of the country where they originate.”
His extradition to the US apparently deserves its own political thriller movie.
Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan defied Russia by extraditing the suspect to the US. Courts in the Czech Republic said that extradition to both countries was permissible. The country’s prime minister Andrej Babis favored the US, while President Milos Zeman wanted Pelikan to extradite the hacker to Russia.
Ultimately, the judge chose the US because the hacker faced “very serious criminal activity” charges in the country, compared to Russia.