A suspected Russian hacker who was extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic has pleaded not guilty to hacking computers at LinkedIn, Dropbox, Formspring and other American companies in 2012 by using the credentials of these companies’ employees, ABCNews reported.
Yevgeniy Nikulin pleaded not guilty to computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft and other charges in federal court in San Francisco on Friday. The 30-year-old was extradited from Prague on Friday, 15 months after his arrest in the Czech Republic. Prosecutors say Nikulin penetrated the computers of Silicon Valley firms in 2012 and potentially gained access to the personal information of millions of Americans. Nikulin’s defense attorney has said his case is politically motivated in the U.S.
LinkedIn, now owned by Microsoft Corp, has said the case was related to a breach that might have compromised information of at least 100 million users.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a news release that “this is deeply troubling behavior once again emanating from Russia.” He added “computer hacking is a direct threat to the security and privacy of Americans” and that the U.S. won’t tolerate it regardless of the country where it originates.
A federal public defender representing him did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nikulin has denied wrongdoing in comments to Czech media.
Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan’s decision to send Nikulin to the U.S. was announced just minutes after the country’s Constitutional Court released a statement that it rejected a last-minute appeal from the Nikulin as “groundless.”
Earlier this week, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in Prague that under Czech extradition law “we have every reason to believe and expect that Nikulin will be extradited to America.” But the Czech Republic’s pro-Russia president, Milos Zeman, repeatedly asked Pelikan to allow Nikulin’s extradition to Russia, the minister said. Zeman has no official say in cases like this one.