PRAGUE -- A Czech court has ruled that a suspected Russian hacker at the center of a tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow can be extradited to the United States.
Prague's High Court on November 24 upheld a lower court's ruling allowing the extradition of Yevgeny Nikulin, whom the United States accuses of hacking computers and stealing information from major Internet companies including LinkedIn and Dropbox.
Moscow, which has repeatedly denounced U.S. efforts to extradite its citizens from third countries, has sought Nikulin's extradition on separate Internet-theft charges.
A final decision will be in the hands of the Czech justice minister, who can approve extradition to one country and block the other.
Nikulin initially appealed his extradition to both the United States and Russia, but later withdrew the appeal against extradition to his homeland.
Nikulin was arrested by Czech authorities in October 2016 based on an Interpol warrant requested by the U.S. government.
The latest ruling on his extradition comes amid ongoing U.S. investigations into an alleged Russian campaign to influence last year's presidential election.
U.S. intelligence has concluded that Russia used computer hacking, e-mail leaks, and propaganda in an effort to influence the November 2016 presidential election that swept President Donald Trump into the White House. Moscow rejects the allegation.
A lawyer for Nikulin claimed earlier this year that FBI agents tried to get his client to confess to hacking the U.S. Democratic Party before the election.
The issue came up briefly during the May 30 hearing at the Prague Municipal Court, which ruled that Nikulin could be extradited either to Russia or the United States.
Nikulin said during that hearing that he was not involved in cyberattacks targeting the Democratic Party, and he has insisted he is innocent of the charges he faces in the United States.
With reporting by Oksana Kapinos of Current Time TV in Prague, AP, Reuters, and Lidovky.cz