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Spain deports Russian hacker linked to billions of spam emails

Related Story: Russian arrested amid talk case linked to US election

A Russian man accused of operating a network of infected computers used by cybercriminals has been extradited to the United States from Spain.

Pyotr Levashov, from St. Petersburg, was arrested in April 2017 while vacationing with his family in Barcelona.

US prosecutors said Mr Levashov, 37, ran the Kelihos botnet, a network of more than 100,000 infected devices used by cybercriminals to distribute viruses, ransomware, phishing emails and other spam attacks.

They say the network was capable of pumping out billions of spam emails.

Mr Levashov denies the charges in an eight-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Connecticut in April, and his lawyers allege the case is politically motivated.

US authorities had asked their Spanish counterparts to detain the Russian on charges of fraud and unauthorised interception of electronic communications.

A statement from Spain's National Police said officers handed him over to US marshals on Friday, after Spain's High Court granted the extradition request in October.

The court also rejected a counter-extradition request from Russia.

Mr Levashov, who fought the extradition, told the 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.

Mr Levashov was charged by US 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 scheduled to appear in court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Justice Department said.

Reuters/AP

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