Moscow accuses US of hunting Russians after Israel extradites suspected hacker

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russia on Wednesday (Nov 13) accused Washington of hunting its citizens across the world and said it had made a formal diplomatic protest after Israel extradited a Russian man to the United States where he faces a slew of serious cyber crime charges.

The US Department of Justice said in a statement on Tuesday that Alexei Burkov, 29, had arrived in the United States and made his first court appearance thanks to cooperation with Israel, where he was arrested in 2015.

Burkov is accused of various crimes, including wire fraud, computer intrusions, identity theft and money laundering, the same statement said.

Burkov, who denies wrongdoing, faces decades in jail if found guilty and spent years unsuccessfully trying to thwart US efforts to extradite him.

Burkov, who says he is cyber security specialist, is accused of running a website called Cardplanet that sold debit and credit card numbers, many of which were stolen through computer intrusions from US citizens, the Department of Justice said.

The stolen data, which came from more than 150,000 compromised payment cards, resulted in over US$20 million (S$27.25 million) in fraudulent purchases made on US credit cards, it added, saying Burkov was also accused of running an online forum where elite cyber criminals bought and sold stolen goods and services.

The Russian Embassy in the United States condemned his extradition in a statement posted on social media on Wednesday.

"... Decisive (protest) action has been undertaken with regards to Washington unleashing a hunt for our citizens across the world," the embassy said.

"In a (protest) note sent to the State Department, we have demanded that the American side strictly observe its current bilateral obligations."


Russian diplomats would soon visit Burkov in jail in Virginia and were in touch with his relatives in Russia, it said.

Burkov's family had been hoping that Israel would free him as part of a potential prisoner swap for a US-Israeli woman jailed last month in Russia for drug offences.