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Russian bot-herder and election-fiddling suspect closer to US trial

It's an international tug-of-war: Russia also wants to extradite Peter Levashov

The 36-year-old Russian accused of herding pump-and-dump spambots will be tried in America, following a decision of a Spanish court.

Peter Yuryevich Levashov was arrested in Spain in April 2017 and accused of running the Kelihos botnet. While early speculation floated the idea he was involved in election fiddling, his first appearance in court made it clear US authorities believed his operation was, among other things, spamming targets to try and get them to buy – and inflate the price of – worthless stock.

The Department of Justice's list in April said he would be accused of “harvesting login credentials, distributing bulk spam e-mails, and installing ransomware and other malicious software”.

Reuters now reports Spain's High Court has okayed Levashov's extradition.

Levashov has a slender three days to lodge an appeal against the extradition.

In opposing the extradition, Levashov claimed he'd worked for Vladimir Putin's United Russian Party for 10 years, and he feared torture if sent to America.

He was quoted in Russian outlet RIA as saying “If I go to the U.S., I will die in a year. They want to get information of a military nature and about the United Russia party … I will be tortured, within a year I will be killed, or I will kill myself”.

The High Court ruling dismissed that, saying neither Levashov's allegations of political motivations nor threats to his well-being had been proven.

Russia also wants to extradite Levashov. ®

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