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19 Jan, 2017 07:01

Hunt for ‘Russian hackers’? Spain detains vacationing programmer 'at FBI’s request'

Hunt for ‘Russian hackers’? Spain detains vacationing programmer 'at FBI’s request'

A 31-year-old Russian computer programmer has been detained by Spanish authorities at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol, his wife has confirmed to RT.

Stanislav Lisov was apprehended on January 13 at the airport in Barcelona in the middle of a holiday trip with his wife.

“We were detained at the airport in Barcelona, when we came to return a rented car before flying out to Lyon, to continue our trip and visit friends. When we were getting out of the car, two police officers approached showed us the badge and said they were detaining my husband,” Darya Lisova told RT.

The policemen immediately searched the programmer’s phone, notebook, and his tablet computer.

While no official charges have been brought against Lisov, he is still in custody and is currently being held in Brians prison in the Martorell municipality of Catalonia, according to his wife.

The Russian embassy in Spain has confirmed to RT that Lisov is being detained. Russian diplomats are working “to protect the interests of the Russian citizen and provide him with the necessary consular assistance,” the embassy said in a statement. Meanwhile, his family has hired a lawyer.

“We’ve already had two lawyers. The first could not cope with the responsibilities, so we hired a second. He is now familiarizing himself with the case. So far, we have not been able to figure out what exactly they suspect him of doing,” said Lisova.

The woman fears that Stanislav might be extradited to the US without a court ruling from Madrid. The Spanish authorities are refusing to share any details regarding the case, as the apparent arrest warrant came from Washington.

The FBI and Interpol have refused to reply to a request for information from RT, and the US State Department has also failed to comment.

Lisov was apparently apprehended in Spain based on FBI allegations he had committed fraud in the United States, a police source  Sputnik news agency. According to TASS, citing Spanish officials, he is suspected of “conspiracy to commit computer fraud.” However, there is no formal confirmation of this from Russian officials in Moscow or the country's embassy in Spain.

Reacting to the arrest, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was the need to “look into every single case.”

He stressed that Moscow “will not allow infringement of the interests of Russians, no matter where in the world, if there is no reason for that” and if they “are not related to any illegal actions.”

Moscow always provides legal assistance to citizens in such cases, Peskov added.

Simple kidnapping

The vice-president of the Russian subsidiary of the International Human Rights Committee, Alexander Ionov, has called Lisov’s detention a violation of the international law.

“If Spain was preparing to detain our citizens on its territory, then the Russian side should have been notified in advance,” Ionov told RT.

Noting that Spain and the United States have “very close relations” when it comes to extraditing citizens of third countries, Ionov said that Madrid “simplified the rules of international law to the detriment of human rights.”

The human rights representative also confirmed that, so far, Moscow and Lisov’s legal team haven’t been able to ascertain the official reason behind the Russian programmer’s detention, calling it simply a “kidnapping.”

Stanislav works as a systems administration specialist and website developer for a local firm in the Russian city of Taganrog.

This is not the first time a Russian computer specialist has been detained while abroad on behalf of the US. In October, the Czech Republic detained a Russian citizen suspected of hacking targets in the United States.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry criticized the arrest at the time, saying it showed that Washington was mounting a global manhunt against Russian citizens.

Lisov’s arrest comes at a time when the US government and intelligence agencies are accusing Russia of having initiated a cyberattack campaign against Democratic Party organizations before the November 8 presidential election.