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Moscow accuses U.S. of hunting Russians after Israel extradites suspected hacker

Moscow accuses U.S. of hunting Russians after Israel extradites suspected hacker
FILE PHOTO: Israel, the uncle of Naama Issachar, shows a photo of Naama on his mobile phone next to a newspaper with an article about her at his home in Rehovot, Israel October 13, 2019. The words in Hebrew read "Get me out quickly". REUTERS/Amir Cohen -
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AMIR COHEN(Reuters)
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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Wednesday 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. citizens, the Department of Justice said.

The stolen data, which came from more than 150,000 compromised payment cards, resulted in over $20 million in fraudulent purchases made on U.S. 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 U.S.-Israeli woman jailed last month in Russia for drug offences.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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