A Russian citizen accused of participating in a huge hacking ring that targeted computer networks of several American corporations is expected to face trial in a federal court soon, after the Dutch government approved his extradition to the U.S. The man, who has been in a Dutch jail since his arrest in 2012, is charged with leading a cyberattack that stole millions of credit card and debit card numbers.
Vladimir Drinkman was part of a group of four Russians and a Ukrainian who were indicted in July 2013 for allegedly hacking into computer networks of 17 retailers, financial institutions and payment processors to steal more than 160 million credit- and debit-card numbers. The victims of the hack, which is considered to be the largest data breach to be ever prosecuted in the U.S., include Nasdaq OMX Group, 7-Eleven, Carrefour and J.C. Penney, Bloomberg reported.
After Drinkman, 34, was indicted last year, the U.S. and Russia have been fighting a legal battle over his trial. While the U.S. wants Drinkman to face federal court in New Jersey, Russia wants to put the alleged hacker on trial in his home country. On Tuesday, Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten agreed to extradite Drinkman to the U.S., which had approached the Dutch government 14 months before Russia did with such a request.
Drinkman, who does not want to be handed over to the U.S., can appeal his extradition through a process called preliminary relief proceedings, which will be “his last and only resort,” Bloomberg reported, citing a Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman.
“I will be severely punished,” Drinkman said in an interview with the NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper, in August. “Why would I admit to being guilty in the U.S. for something I haven’t done?”
According to prosecutors, Drinkman and his gang sold the stolen data, known as “dumps,” to “dumps resellers,” who passed it along to other individuals and groups through online forums. In recent months, there have been several high-profile hackings of U.S. computer networks suspected to have been perpetrated by hackers with Russian links.
Officials recently told the Washington Post that the White House’s computer network was breached by hackers who may have been sponsored by the Russian government. In this instance, though the hackers got access to unclassified information, causing temporary network disruptions, the security breach did not resulted in the loss of any national security secrets, they said. Russian hackers have also been blamed for a notorious breach that compromised gigabytes of data at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in August.