Spain agrees to extradite Russian programmer accused of hacking to the US

Spain agrees to extradite Russian programmer accused of hacking to the US
A Spanish court has granted a US request to extradite a Russian programmer accused of hacking and operating a large botnet. Moscow had previously asked Spain to send the man back to Russia, with the programmer saying he fears for his life if sent to America.

The National Court of Spain ruled on Tuesday that Russian citizen Peter Levashov would be extradited to the US, according to a statement released by the state judiciary.

The programmer, Pyotr Levashov, was detained in Barcelona this April on suspicion of hacking and operating the malicious Kelihos network, a large botnet comprising tens of thousands of infected computers.

The US demanded extradition of the Russian citizen, whom the prosecution believes to be a “prominent spammer.” While the eight-count indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury in Connecticut, Levashov also faces charges in other states.

Moscow has challenged the US request in September, asking the Spanish authorities to extradite the man in question back to Russia instead.

“Russia sent a request of extradition to the Ministry of Justice on September 20,” Levashov’s attorney Margarita Repina told RIA Novosti.

Attorneys of Levashov argued that the programmer should be tried in Spain, as citizens of this country suffered from his actions. The Russian, himself, claimed that his life would be in danger if he was extradited to the United States.

“I fear for my life,” Levashov said, stating that in the US he would face “conditions incompatible with life in order to extract Russian secrets.”

Following the arrest of Levashov, his wife Maria expressed similar fears over her husband’s fate if he were extradited to the US.

“I don't know what to do. One thing I clearly understand is that if my husband is extradited to the US, my son and I will never see him again. They will cook up anything, but will never let him go,” Maria told RT Russian in April.

Levashov is the second Russian programmer to be extradited recently from Spain to the US. In August, a Spanish court ruled to extradite another Russian citizen, Stanislav Lisov, who was detained on a US request this January. The cases of the two programmers appear to be quite similar, as both of them were detained in Barcelona while on vacation with their wives.

Following the detention of Lisov, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the US simply “abducted” Russian citizens, ignoring Moscow’s repeated calls for cooperation in battling cybercrime.

“US secret services and the administration were acting on the sly,” Zakharova said.

“They did not advise Russian law enforcement about the grievances against our fellow citizens (although the laws needed for this were in place) but they abducted them during their travels abroad.”