An alleged Russian programmer suspected of stealing 117 million LinkedIn credentials in 2012 appeared in federal court in San Francisco Friday after being extradited to the U.S. following a protracted diplomatic struggle between the US and Russia governments.
Yevgeniy Nikulin, 30, of Moscow, charged with cybercriminal charges including cyber invasion and identity theft. He entered a not guilty plea to all charges. Also, Nikulin declined to provide his name and age when asked by the federal judge, who then advised him of his rights to remain silent, noting that he might already be aware of these rights.
The US government told the judge that he posed a serious flight risk and Nikulin is a Russian national who was extradited from the Czech Republic. Prosecutors said they had notified the Russian consulate in Houston of Nikulin’s extradition and arrest.
Russian programmer was arrested by Czech authorities in Prague in 2016 after US officials issued an arrest warrant for him. A grand jury indictment filed in 2016 in San Francisco charged him with computer invasion and aggravated identity theft, among other cybercriminal charges.
According to the indictment, Nikulin managed to break into LinkedIn’s computers in March 2012 because he stole credentials including the usernames and passwords of an employee who worked at the LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring – Silicon Valley, California, headquarters.
Yevgeniy Nikulin denies all the charges.
He will remain in custody for now, and a pre-trial interview may happen on Monday. Russian programmer is also scheduled to have a status hearing on Monday. He will get another medical evaluation, and then the FBI will bring him back to the federal court and transfer him to US Marshals, and then to Santa Rita jail. A detention hearing will take place next week on Wednesday. No date has been set yet for a trial before Judge William Alsup.
The FBI released a statement that the agency “will not allow international cybercriminals to operate with impunity.”
“Nikulin allegedly targeted three companies in California through cyber attacks, and will now face prosecution in the U.S.,” FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett said in the statement. “This extradition is a success for law enforcement and our international partners.”
His extradition from the Czech Republic to the United States was a culmination more than a year-long legal and political fight between the U.S. and Russia governments, and the case reached the highest levels of politics in the Czech Republic, the United States, and Russia.
After his arrest in Prague and the US extradition request, the Russian government asked for Nikulin to be extradited to Russia over an alleged theft of $3,450 from a Webmoney – online money transfer firm back in 2009.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated at the time of arrest Nikulin it wanted to prevent his extradition to the U.S.
Robert Pelikan, the Czech Minister of Justice, told CNN News that the move to extradite Nikulin to the U.S. was a “much easy decision” after comparing the alleged crimes in the United States and Russia and the level of intensity of the countries to extradite him.
Also, Pelikan said that he made the decision a “long time ago” but waited for all the legal proceedings to be finished.