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Suspected Russian hacker Nikulin extradited to US, says source

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic has extradited Russian citizen Yevgeniy Nikulin to the United States where he is accused of hacking social networks including LinkedIn, a source with knowledge of the case told Reuters.


The decision by Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan defies Russia which had also asked for his extradition after Nikulin was arrested in Prague in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2016.


Czech public radio and the weekly Respekt also reported the extradition. A Czech Justice Ministry spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.


A U.S. federal grand jury in California indicted the 29-year-old Nikulin last year on suspicion of hacking into the U.S.-based social media companies LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring in 2012.


LinkedIn has said the case was related to a 2012 breach at the social networking company that it previously said may have compromised the credentials of 100 million users, prompting it to launch a massive password reset operation.


Nikulin has in the past denied any wrongdoing in comments to Czech media. Reuters could not immediately reach his attorney on Friday.


After Nikulin?s arrest in Prague, Russia also asked for his extradition. A Moscow court issued a warrant for his arrest in November 2016 for the alleged theft of $3,450 via Webmoney in 2009, the Czech Justice Ministry said then.


Czech courts have ruled extradition to both countries was permissible, and the decision was up to Pelikan.


Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said he was in favor of extradition to the United States but Pelikan said President Milos Zeman, who often takes a pro-Russian stance, had urged extradition to Russia.