Czech Court to Rule on Fate of Russian Hacker Nikulin – Should he Stay or Should he Go?

Prague, Nov 24 (CTK) – The Prague High Court today confirmed the admissibility of Russian Yevgeni Nikulin’s extradition to the USA, which has accused him of hacking, while his extradition is also sought by Moscow, and now it is up to the Czech justice minister to decide whether Nikulin should be extradited.


The court decision is definitive.


Nikulin, 30, will file a complaint against the court’s ruling, his defence lawyer Martin Sadilek told reporters today. He said he would justify the complaint by the violation of his client’s rights to a just trial and to defence.


“I am surprised,taken aback, disappointed. I don’t share the legal opinion of the High Court and I will take steps I can take to reverse the decision,” Sadilek said.


Besides, Nikulin will question the unbiased character of the Prague High Court panel’s chairman with the Supreme Court, Sadilek added.


“The purpose of the court proceedings was not to assess the evidence as to whether the U.S.-wanted person [Nikulin] really committed a crime,” Karel Simik, head of the panel of judges, said.


He said there are no reasons that would make Nikulin’s extradition to the USA inadmissible.


The Czech police arrested Nikulin in October 2016 based on an U.S. warrant.


The United States suspects Nikulin of nine different criminal acts committed in 2012-13, including a hacker’s attack on the Linkedin profession network.


The judge said the suspected crimes are also crimes in the Czech Republic and they have no political subtext, since they were motivated by profit.


The judge also mentioned the large extent of Nikulin’s suspected criminal activities and the high damage he is suspected of having caused.


Moscow previously said it will do its best to prevent the extradition of Nikulin to the USA.


Russia applied for his extradition on the same day as the USA based on the warrant for his arrest it issued on suspicion of an Internet theft of finances amounting to $3,450 in 2009.


The punishment Nikulin might face in the USA is tougher than in Russia, up to 54 years in prison for all suspected crimes, according to his defence lawyer.


According to the state attorney, however, Nikulin might be given up to 14 years in prison, with which the court identified today after acquainting itself with new documents provided by the USA.


In the Czech Republic, Nikulin would face ten years in prison at the most, if found guilty of the above crimes, the court said.


If the justice minister doubted the court’s decision, he may apply for its review by the Supreme Court.


Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) said he would decide on Nikulin’s extradition after studying his files only.


The decision-making might be influenced by the forming of a new government since the current cabinet of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will tender its resignation on Wednesday. According to some sources, Pelikan is to continue in the nascent ANO minority cabinet, but it is not certain whether ANO chairman and next PM Andrej Babis counts with him at the Justice Ministry’s helm.