House Speaker Paul Ryan has urged Czech Republic authorities to extradite Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian man arrested in Prague in 2016 in connection with allegedly hacking California-based internet companies LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring.
Mr. Ryan, Ohio Republican, pressed for the accused hacker’s extradition while visiting the Czech capital Tuesday, according to media reports.
The United States has “every reason to believe and expect that Mr. Nikulin will be extradited to America,” said Mr. Ryan, The Associated Press reported.
“The United States has the case to prevail on having him extradited, whether it’s the severity of the crime, which is clearly on the side of U.S., or the timing of the request for the extradition,” Mr. Ryan added.
Mr. Nikulin was apprehended in Prague in October 2016 pursuant to an international arrest warrant and was subsequently indicted in California on federal hacking charges related to allegedly breaching LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring four years earlier. Russia has requested his extradition as well, however, and Czech authorities are currently weighing competing bids from both Washington and Moscow.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has endorsed extraditing Mr. Nikulin to the U.S., but ultimately the accused hacker’s fate will be decided by Justice Minister Robert Pelikan. It is not clear when his decision will be announced.
If extradited to the U.S., Mr. Nikulin stands to be tried on three counts of computer intrusion; two counts of intentional transmission of information, code or command causing damage to a protected computer; two counts of aggravated identity theft; one count of trafficking in unauthorized access devices; and one count of conspiracy.
“I’m innocent,” Mr. Nikulin said previously. “I haven’t done anything illegal. I have nothing to do with that.”
The Speaker of the House attests otherwise, however.
“He did violate our laws, he did hack these companies…. So the extradition claim is very legitimate,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview this week with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S. government-funded broadcasting group. “And I just expect that the Czech system will go through its process, and at the end of that process, I am hopeful and expecting that he’ll be extradited.”