Alleged Russian hacker extradited to US

Updated: Feb 03, 2018, 14:56 IST | IANS

A Russian programmer accused of being the mastermind behind spreading ransomware through a large botnet, was extradited to the US, a statement from the Department of Justice said

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A Russian programmer accused of being the mastermind behind spreading ransomware through a large botnet, was extradited to the US, a statement from the Department of Justice said. The statement published late Friday, said programmer Pyotr Levashov is "alleged to have controlled and operated the 'Kelihos botnet'. The botnet was used to distribute hundreds of millions of fraudulent e-mails per year, intercept credentials to online and financial accounts belonging to thousands of Americans and spread ransomware throughout our networks."

The accused who was extradited from Spain was presented before a US Magistrates Court in Connecticut on Friday. Levashov, 37, with many alias, including Petr Levashov, Peter Severa, Petr Severa and Sergey Astakhov, is from St. Petersburg in Russia, it said. Levashov was detained on April 7, 2017, by Spanish authorities. It is alleged that, for years, Levashov profited handsomely by controlling a botnet that infected computers and affected computer users all over the world.

Levashov is facing an eight-count indictment in the US -- with one count each of causing intentional damage to a protected computer, accessing a protected computer to commit fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, threatening to damage a protected computer and aggravated identity theft. He was also indicted on two counts of fraud in connection with email, RT News reported. Levashov pleaded not guilty to all eight counts during his first US court appearance, his Russian's lawyer Igor Litvak told Sputnik.

Litvak said they have "no documents from the prosecutor's office, no evidence of crime." Levashov had previously said his life would be in danger if Spanish authorities complied with the US extradition request and was afraid that he might face torture in America "in order to extract Russian secrets". The programmer is also wanted in Russia on cyber-crime charges, including hacking the site of a medical facility in St. Petersburg and spreading malware. Moscow issued an international warrant for his arrest in August.

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