International

Russian Accused Of Hacking US Tech Companies Pleads Not Guilty

Bank heist

A Russian man claimed his innocence late last week after being accused of hacking three U.S. tech companies, potentially accessing personal information on 100 million LinkedIn users.

Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Justice contends Yevgeniy Nikulin, 30, of Moscow, accessed the servers of LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring in 2012, in part by using employees credentials. Nikulin entered a not guilty plea in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He had fought his extradition after his arrest in 2016, noted Reuters. Now, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn said the case is related to a hack that could have compromised 100 million or more users’ data.

Nikulin, who was slapped with nine criminal counts, including causing damage to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft, was extradited to the U.S. from the Czech Republic despite calls from Russia for Nikulin to be brought there. Reuters reported the decision by Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan to extradite Nikulin defied Russia, which had also sought his extradition. Czech is a U.S. ally, and its courts are part of the European Union. The decision about where Nikulin should be extradited was left up to Pelikan. “Computer hacking is not just a crime, it is a direct threat to the security and privacy of Americans,” U.S. 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.”

Prime Minister Andrej Babis wanted extradition to the United States, but President Milos Zeman had favored extradition to Russia, leading Pelikan to make the decision. “It was apparent that the United States requested extradition for a suspicion of very serious criminal activity, which was not the case of the Russian request,” Pelikan told Reuters in a phone interview.

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