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16 Aug, 2014 10:35

Russian MP’s son to remain in custody in Seattle until hacking trial

Russian MP’s son to remain in custody in Seattle until hacking trial

A US federal judge in Seattle has refused to release on a $1 million bond Russian citizen Roman Seleznyov, who is accused of hacking credit cards’ data. A son of a prominent Russian lawmaker, Seleznyov will remain in custody until trial.

Roman Seleznyov, 30, appeared in US District Court in Seattle on Friday to face hacking charges after he was indicted in 2011. The son of Russian MP Valery Seleznyov is accused of being involved in bank fraud, obtaining information from protected computerized cash registers, aggravated identity theft, trafficking in unauthorized access devices and possessing hundreds of thousands of stolen credit card numbers.

A grand jury in Washington State has heard claims that Seleznyov sold the data online for at least $2 million.

Seleznyov has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, which potentially could be punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

He is also wanted in Nevada on similar, though unrelated charges.

The judge declined the plea to release Seleznyov on home detention with electronic monitoring and no Internet access on condition of posting $100,000 in cash on a $1 million bond.

Seleznyov’s lawyer stressed that his client does not represent any danger to society. “He's not going anywhere,” attorney Robert Ray said. “This case does not involve an act of terrorism. It does not involve an act of war.”

But the US prosecutor claimed that new evidence recovered from Seleznyov’s laptop after his arrest in the Maldives last month gave “new insight into the breadth of his activities,” AP reported.

US Assistant District Attorney Norman Barbosa informed the court that “at first look” Seleznyov’s laptop contained 2.1 million stolen credit card numbers and that defendant’s profits from criminal activities had topped $17 million.

“Those funds have remained beyond the reach of US law enforcement, so they are probably almost definitely available to the defendant” should he try to flee, Barbosa told Judge James Donohue.

Barbosa claimed that Seleznyov had been searching the online system of the US federal courts for charges filed against him under his real name and his online nicknames while he and his girlfriend Anna Otisko vacationed in the Maldives.

Valery Seleznev (R), State Duma member representing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and father of Roman Seleznev, who was recently detained in the Maldives, and Roman's partner Anna Otisko hold a press conference in Moscow on July 11, 2014 (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

The judge noted that although Seleznyov had been stripped of his passport, “the court has no doubt he would be able to procure” documents that would enable him to flee justice.

In 2011, a month after the sealed indictment was returned, Seleznyov became a victim of a terrorist attack in a café in Morocco. He received a brain injury and spent two weeks in a coma, undergoing a series of operations, Ray told the court.

The lawyer reiterated the claim of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which has accused the US government of kidnapping Seleznyov.

Russia’s consul general in Seattle, Andrey Yushmanov, who also attended the hearing Friday, said Moscow remains concerned about the circumstances of Seleznyov's arrest, because instead of contacting Russian authorities and presenting evidence of illegal activities by a Russian citizen, US law enforcement used a third-party nation to get the suspect arrested and extradited to the US, just as happened to Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout in Thailand in 2008.

US Secret Service agents arrested Seleznyov at Male international airport in the Maldives, working in close cooperation with local officials, despite the lack of an extradition treaty between this country and the US.

After that Seleznyov was brought to the US military prison on the Guam Island in the Pacific, where another US federal judge ordered him to be sent to a prison in Seattle.

The US prosecutor claimed that Seleznyov had been travelling extensively, yet always to those countries that have no extradition treaty with the US.