ECHR Halts Extradition Process of Latvian Suspected Hacker

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has suspended the extradition proceedings in the case of a Latvian suspected computer hacker wanted in the US on cyber crime charges, his lawyer told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

RIGA, August 8 (RAPSI) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has suspended the extradition proceedings in the case of a Latvian suspected computer hacker wanted in the US on cybercrime charges, his lawyer told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

Deniss Calovskis’ attorneys appealed to the ECHR after the Latvian government decided on Tuesday to extradite him to the US, where he is wanted on charges of creating a computer virus that US authorities say helped steal tens of millions of dollars.

Calovskis is set to remain in the Riga Central Prison, where he has been kept since his arrest in Latvia in December 2012, Latvian prosecutors said.

Calovskis’ mother Jelena Calovska told Baltkom radio that she was “very pleased” about the ECHR’s decision.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry also expressed satisfaction with the ECHR decision, saying it was important to ensure that all rights of Latvian citizens must be respected. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has repeatedly spoken out against Calovskis’ extradition, arguing that the potential punishment is disproportionate to the alleged crime.

According to MixNews.lv, Calovskis, 27, a resident of Riga, has been charged with using a virus to infect over a million computers worldwide, including at NASA. He allegedly worked on the virus together with Nikita Kuzmin, a Russian, and Mihai Ionut Paunescu, a Romanian.

US law enforcement officers arrested Kuzmin in California in 2010 and persuaded him to cooperate. He helped prosecutors to trace the other two men, who were arrested in 2012 in their home countries and are also awaiting extradition.

Kuzmin is accused of developing the so-called Gozi virus, while Calovskis is accused of modifying it so that it could mimic a bank website, prompting account holders to divulge personal information. Paunescu has been accused of hosting command and control servers, thus shielding them from detection.

Updates with Latvia prosecutors’ statement in Paragraph 3 and reaction from Latvia’s Foreign Ministry in Paragraph 5.

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