A Canadian judge on Friday refused to grant bail to Karim Baratov, an Ontario resident wanted by the U.S. Justice Department for hacking accusations involving an alleged international cybercrime ring connected to a colossal 2014 data breach affecting a half-billion Yahoo accounts.
Mr. Baratov, 22, must remain bars as his attorneys challenge an American extradition request, Ontario Ontario Court of Appeals Justice J. A. Miller ruled, rejected the alleged hacker’s attempt to reverse a lower court’s April order denying bail.
“Counsel for Mr. Baratov argues that what is alleged against his client is a comparatively minor and victimless crime,” the appeals judge ruled Friday, CBC reported. “It is anything but.”
“At the end of the day, Mr. Baratov remains a significant flight risk and is alleged to have committed a serious offense,” the judge added. “The application is dismissed.”
Mr. Baratov was arrested in March and charged by the Justice Department with helping two Russian intelligence officers and a third man accused of breaching Yahoo in 2014 and compromising upwards of 500 million user accounts.
While not accused of hacking Yahoo himself, prosecutors allege Mr. Baratov assisted its perpetrators after the fact by using stolen Yahoo data to compromise dozens of other accounts belonging to journalists, politicians and private-sector employees at the behest of the hackers in exchange for monetary compensation.
When “a target of interest had accounts at webmail providers other than Yahoo, including through information obtained as part of the Yahoo intrusion, they tasked their co-conspirator, Baratov, a resident of Canada, with obtaining unauthorized access to more than 80 accounts in exchange for commissions,” the Justice Department argued previously.
But “Whether the applicant was paid nothing or was paid millions … the alleged conduct remains a destabilizing attack on the integrity of systems that are vital to all of our well-being,” the appeals judge wrote in Friday’s ruling.
Defense attorneys Amedeo Dicarlo described Friday’s dismissal as disappointing but expected, CBC reported.
“The next step is to fight extradition,” he added.
Mr. Baratov faces a 10-count indictment in the U.S. for charges connected to the Yahoo breach including computer hacking, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft if successfully extradited.
“He is anxious for closure and/or vindication like anyone would be in his position,” Mr. Dicarlo said Friday.