The Czech Republic has extradited to the United States a Russian citizen accused of hacking the LinkedIn website and stealing 117 million passwords.
Yevgeniy Nikulin arrived in the United States early Friday, according to U.S. officials, and is expected soon to appear before a judge in San Francisco.
The agreement to send him to the United States came even as Russia also requested his extradition, highlighting the chilly diplomatic situation between Washington and Moscow.
Russia accuses Nikulin of an alleged theft from an online money transfer company in 2009. It requested Nikulin's extradition shortly after his arrest and the U.S. extradition request.
Robert Pelikan, Czech Minister of Justice, told CNN that it was an “easy decision” to send Nikulin to America instead of Russia because the American charges were more serious. He said he made the decision a “long time ago” but waited to announce it until all the legal proceedings were finished.
Czech Radio 7 reported that the justice minister waited until the Czech Republic’s top court rejected a last-minute appeal from Russia.
The case has been contentious in the Czech Republic, where President Milos Zeman is considered to be an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ryan visits Prague
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan visited Prague earlier this week and met with Prime Minister Andrej Babis. A spokesperson for the prime minister said the two discussed Nikulin’s extradition.
According to indictment documents, Nikulin was arrested in the Czech Republic after U.S. officials issued an international arrest warrant. He is charged with computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft and other offenses.
The indictment says Nikulin broke into the computers of the social network LinkedIn in March 2012 by stealing the username and password of an employee.