WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Russian man accused of operating a network of infected computers used by cyber criminals has been extradited to the United States from Spain and will make an initial court appearance on Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
U.S. prosecutors said Peter Levashov, 37, ran the Kelihos botnet, a network of more than 100,000 infected devices used by cyber criminals to distribute viruses, ransomware, phishing emails and other spam attacks.
Levashov denies the charges in an eight-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Connecticut in April.
Levashov, who fought the extradition, told Spain’s High Court in September that he had worked for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party for the last 10 years, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
He told the court that investigators in the United States would torture him for information about his political work if he was sent there to face the charges, RIA said.
Levashov was charged by U.S. prosecutors with causing intentional damage to a protected computer and wire fraud, which carry a potential prison sentence of up to 52 years if he is convicted at trial.
He was arrested while on holiday in Barcelona last April and in October, Spain’s High Court granted a U.S. request to extradite him. Levashov was scheduled to appear in court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Justice Department said.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Grant McCool)