Wife of Russian programmer 'suspected of cyber attacks on US' shares details about his arrest
The wife of detained Russian programmer Pyotr Levashov has spoken to RT of her anguish of never seeing her husband again "if he is extradited to the US" from Spain "on suspicion of cyber attacks on US governmental sources."
Levashov was detained in Barcelona last week, while on holiday with his family and a friend, his wife Maria told RT Russian.
"It was a nightmare. At night, our rented apartment was stormed by a large number of police officers, who smashed the door. We were all forced to the floor, right in front of our four-year-old child. They didn't answer my questions and then locked me with my son in another room, where they kept me for two hours and wouldn't let me speak with my husband," the woman said, adding that she was "in shock."
When she managed to later speak to her husband over the phone, Pyotr told her he had been shown "some papers in Spanish without a stamp, with a bad quality picture of him," and heard the law enforcement mentioning "something about a virus" he had allegedly created, "linked to Trump winning the elections."
All electronic devices had been forcefully taken from the family, she said. "I don't know what to do. One thing I clearly understand is that if my husband is extradited to the US, me and my son will never see him again. They will cook up anything, but will never let him go," Maria told RT Russian.
Back home, her husband worked with various start-up projects and developed smart phone apps, she said, adding that the family also has an event management agency.
Washington has 40 days from the date of arrest to present its legal case for extradition.
Spanish authorities have arranged Levashov's transfer to Madrid with Spain's National Court to hear his case, TASS reported citing police. A Spanish police representative told RIA Novosti "the FBI will be dealing with the issue."
The Russian consulate in Barcelona confirmed Levashov's arrest.
"We confirm the detention at the request of the United States, and confirm that he [Levashov] is suspected of hacking," head of the consular division of the Russian embassy in Spain, Andrey Konstantinov told TASS, adding that legal assistance is being provided to the man and his family.
Spanish police also confirmed the arrest, RIA Novosti reported, adding that officers from their technology investigations department took part in the operation conducted under an international request.
The Russian citizen was arrested on a US computer crimes warrant, AP reported citing a spokeswoman for Spain's National Court who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Reporting that "such arrests aren't unusual," AP said US officials "typically try" to detain Russian citizens suspected of cyber crimes abroad, to avoid difficulties with extraditing them from Russia.
A spokesman for the US Justice Department’s criminal division, Peter Carr told Reuters his department had no information at the time of the request, saying "the US case remains under seal." The official added it was a criminal matter without an apparent national security connection.
The programmer's wife has also enlisted the support of the vice president of Russia's International Committee on Human Rights Protection, Aleksandr Ionov, who is now assisting the family.
"Police confiscated all electronic devices from Pyotr and Maria, without presence of any arrest witnesses. It may cause a free access to information, including with an aim to add various files that may contain harmful software," Ionov commented, as quoted by RT Russian.
Ionov is also dealing with the case of another Russian citizen, Stanislav Lisov, who was also detained in Spain under a US request earlier in January. That case is pretty much similar to the latest arrest, with Lisov also having been apprehended in Barcelona in the middle of a holiday trip with his wife.