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Spain Extradites Russian Citizen Accused Of Cybercrimes To U.S.

Pyotr Levashov (right) during an extradition hearing at the National Court in Madrid in July 2017

Spain has extradited to the United States a Russian citizen who is accused by U.S. authorities of running massive cybercrime campaigns, including the use of ransomware, scam e-mail distributions, and fraudulent stock promotions.

Spain's National Police said officers handed Pyotr Levashov of St. Petersburg over to U.S. marshals on February 2.

Levashov, 37, who was arrested in April while vacationing with his family in Barcelona, later appeared before a federal judge in Connecticut, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of hacking, wire and e-mail fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy.

Prosecutors say Levashov, 37, operated "Kelihos," a bot network of infected computers used to steal web login credentials, distributed spam e-mails used for fraudulent stock promotions, and installed malicious software on users' computers.

Levashov's lawyers contend that he is innocent and say the case is politically motivated.

Russia has also fought aggressively to get Levashov returned to his home country, and the fight over where he should stand trial was one of several involving Russian hackers detained in different European countries at Washington's request.

Moscow has complained repeatedly about the detention of Russian citizens abroad, accusing U.S. officials of "kidnapping" them.

U.S. authorities say that in seeking detentions abroad, they have acted lawfully to bring suspected criminals to justice.

The extradition was approved in October by Spain's National Court after it rejected a counterextradition request from Moscow.

The Russian Embassy in Washington didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters