Latvia Agrees to Extradite ‘Virus Creator’ to US

Latvia Agrees to Extradite ‘Virus Creator’ to US
# 06 August 2013 18:31 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The Latvian government on Tuesday said it will extradite a man wanted in the United States on charges of creating a computer virus that US authorities say helped steal tens of millions of dollars, APA reports quoting RAPSI legal news agency.

Latvian courts have twice rejected US requests to extradite Deniss ‘Miami’ ÄŒalovskis, 27, who was arrested in Latvia in December 2012. Latvia’s foreign minister also spoke out against extraditing him, arguing that the potential punishment is disproportionate to the alleged crime.

ÄŒalovskis is accused of collaborating with Russian citizen Nikita ‘76’ Kuzmin and Romanian Mihai lonut ‘Virus’ Paunescu on the Gozi Virus, which infected over 40,000 computers in the US alone, including over 160 at NASA.

The virus used a key-logging mechanism to identify when the computer infected was being used to carry out online banking transactions, US law enforcement officials explained.It would then capture the banking details and passwords needed to steal money from people and businesses.

US law enforcement officers arrested Kuzmin in California in 2010, and persuaded him to cooperate, the New York Times reported.

In January, ÄŒalovskis was charged with a number of offenses in the US including “conspiracy to commit bank fraud” and “conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft” using malware, documents available on the US Justice Department’s website say.

If found guilty, under US law, the three men face prison terms ranging from 60 to 95 years.

On Tuesday, Parliamentary Secretary at Latvia’s Foreign Ministry Viktor Makarov reiterated the foreign ministry’s objection to extraditing ÄŒalovskis, and stressed that, if found guilty, ÄŒalovskis should be allowed to serve his term in Latvia.

Speaking in January, US attorney Preet Bhara stressed that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, but likened the operation to a “modern-day bank robbery ring” that should “serve as a wake-up call to banks and consumers alike, because cybercrime remains one of the greatest threats we face.”

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