A Russian hacker accused of stealing 117 million passwords from online professional networking site LinkedIn has been extradited to the United States, according to officials from the Czech Republican.
Thirty-year-old Yevgeniy Nikulin is accused of breaking into LinkedIn’s computer systems in March 2012, after stealing the log-in credentials of an employee who worked at the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters.
Nikulin has denied the charges. A defense attorney called his case politically motivated. Nikulin was flown to the U.S. overnight after the Czech Constitutional Court rejected a last-minute appeal from Nikulin, calling it “groundless.” Nikulin is also accused of hacking into online storage company Dropbox and other American cyber firms.
The move ends a protracted diplomatic battle between Russia, the U.S. and the Czech Republic that lasted a year and a half and reached the highest levels of government. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan raised the issue with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis during a visit to Prague this week.
A Russian citizen, Nikulin, was arrested in a restaurant in Prague in October of 2016 after arriving in the Czech city for a vacation with his girlfriend. After an extradition request was issued by the U.S. the Russian government attempted to have Nikulin extradited back to Russia over an alleged theft from an online money transfer company in 2009.
Russia has taken a hard line against extradition efforts by the U.S. of Russian citizens. Russian President Vladimir Putin, when asked whether he would consider extraditing any of the named individuals in a recent indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller for alleged activities interfering in the 2016 presidential election responded incredulously.
“Never. Never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone, just like the United States,” Putin said. “Does the United States extradite its citizens to anyone?”