Vadim Polyakov, a Russian national, has been taken into custody in Spain and is being held for extradition to America. Polyakov, 30, is accused of hacking into internet users’ accounts and stealing $10 million of e-tickets that he ultimately sold.
Russian media reported Tuesday that Polyakov is being detained in Madrid while awaiting trial. The Russian consulate in Spain’s capital told the Izvestia newspaper that the Russian consul has twice visited Polyakov and has found an attorney, Spanish lawyer, Oleg Gubarev, to represent the accused hacker.
America and Russia do not have extradition treaties in place, but rather rely on a bilateral agreement promising mutual cooperation regarding criminal issues. It’s an agreement the Russian Foreign Ministry claims America has repeatedly ignored and call the detention and extradition of Russian citizens in third-countries the “kidnapping of … Russian citizens.”
Regardless of the terminology used, the American practice has recently started impacting the upper reaches of Russia’s government.
Roman Seleznev, the son of a member of the Russian Duma, was picked up in the Maldives in July on charges of hacking. Placed on a private plane by agents of American law enforcement, Seleznev was taken to Guam, a US territory, and arrested.
Arkady Bukh, internationally known criminal defense attorney, sees fighting extradition as a losing and costly battle.
“Most of these [extradition] fights do not succeed,” said Bukh. “It’s a costly effort for the accused and drains funds at a time they need it most.”
Bukh also represents another alleged cyber hacker, Russian Dmitry Belorossov. Belorossov was picked up in Spain in August 2013 as he waited on his flight home in the Barcelona airport.
Belorossov, accused by the American Department of Justice of running a botnet, thought to have hit roughly 7,000 Americans, is another in a growing list of Russians who have been arrested in third-countries by American law enforcement authorities.
It’s a policy that is straining East/West relations and does not appear to be winding down.
Speaking to the Cybersecurity Summit in Washington DC, Robert Anderson, Jr., Director of Cyber Enforcement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation used Belorossov’s case to highlight the agency’s “get-tough” policy.
“There’s a lot of countries that will not extradite,” Anderson said. “That will not stop us from pressing forward…”
Bukh has represented other globally known cybercriminals who were picked up in third-countries by American law enforcement. Aleksandr Panin and Maxim Chukharev were taken from Costa Rica. Cases such as these, along with Polyakov and Belorossov, are turning the spotlight on heightened tensions and rhetoric between US and Russian authorities since Edward Snowden sought asylum.