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Prague Police Detain Russian Suspected Of Hacking By U.S.

  • RFE/RL

PRAGUE -- Police in the Czech Republic's capital have detained a Russian citizen suspected of hacking U.S.-based websites.

A Prague police spokesman said late on October 18 that the suspect, whose identity was not disclosed, was detained in a restaurant.

The arrest was carried out on October 5 in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Hours after the arrest was made public, the professional networking service LinkedIn suggested that the arrest was tied to a 2012 breach of member information.

A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department declined to confirm that or comment on a possible connection.

"Following the 2012 breach of LinkedIn member information, we have remained actively involved with the FBI's case to pursue those responsible," the company said in a statement on October 19.

"We are thankful for the hard work and dedication of the FBI in its efforts to locate and capture the parties believed to be responsible for this criminal activity."

In May, LinkedIn said that the 2012 breach resulted in more than 100 million of its users' passwords being compromised -- vastly more than previously thought. The hacker had claimed that 117 million user e-mails and passwords were stolen in the breach.

Awaiting Extradition

The FBI said the man arrested in Prague was "suspected of conducting criminal activities targeting U.S. interests," but didn't give any more details. "As cybercrime can originate anywhere in the world, international cooperation is crucial to successfully defeat cyber adversaries," it said.

Police video from the arrest identified the man only as Yevgeniy N.

The international police organization Interpol had issued a so-called Red Notice for the man, seeking his arrest, police said.

Prague's Municipal Court will decide whether he will be extradited. Spokeswoman Marketa Puci said the court ruled on October 12 that the man will remain in detention until the extradition hearing. No date has yet been set.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Prague, Aleksei Kolmakov, told Interfax on October 19 that the embassy "insists on the transfer of the detained Russian citizen to Russia."

U.S. authorities have two months to deliver to their Czech counterparts all the documents necessary for the Czech authorities to decide on the extradition request.

Russian hackers have been implicated in a number of breaches of U.S. corporations and websites. Recently, the U.S. government also accused Russia of a campaign of cyberattacks against Democratic Party organizations with the intent of influencing the November 8 presidential election.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and Interfax