15:01 GMT25 January 2021
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    A US Judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Russian national Yevgeniy Nikulin, accused by US authorities of hacking social networks such as LinkedIn, Nikulin’s lawyer Arkady Bukh told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    "We submitted petition for psychiatric evaluation. The judge granted our petition. We see it as great victory at this time," Bukh said. A psychiatrist will make an appointment, examine, interview and observe the defendant, and submit the report to the judge, the lawyer added.

    "Based on this evaluation, [the judge] will declare [my] client mentally incapable or capable to continue the trial or make some other decision," Bukh said. The next hearing date is expected to be announced on Wednesday, according to Nikulin’s lawyer.

    "We anticipate that it will be October 24," Bukh said, stressing, however, that the exact date would be announced Wednesday.

    Nikulin did not attend the Tuesday’s hearing. Hours before the proceedings, US District Judge William Alsup published a notice about defendant’s refusal to appear before the court.

    Alsup, after receiving the counsel’s feedback on how to proceed under the circumstances, said the defendant’s pending motion for a mental competency hearing and psychiatric evaluation may be decided in writing rather than via oral argument.

    In 2016, Nikulin was arrested in the Czech Republic on a US warrant for allegedly hacking into computers belonging to LinkedIn, Dropbox and the Formspring online services. Czech authorities extradited Nikulin to the United States on March 29. Nikulin pleaded not guilty to the US charges against him.

    Russia's Foreign Ministry said Moscow was outraged by the decision of the Czech authorities to extradite Nikulin to the United States.

    Nikulin has also been charged with internet fraud in Russia in 2009. Moscow and Washington both requested Nikulin’s extradition on the same day. The Czech court ruled both requests legal, leaving the decision to the country's Justice Minister Robert Pelikan, who satisfied the US request.

    Nikulin has pleaded not guilty to the US charges against him, which include conspiracy, cyber intrusion and aggravated identify theft.

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    Tags:
    psychiatric evaluation, hacker, trial, court, Yevgeniy Nikulin, US
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