Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Const.Court suspends possibility of Nikulin's extradition

ČTK |
14 March 2018

Brno, March 13 (CTK) - Suspected Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin cannot be extradited for prosecution abroad for now as the Czech Constitutional Court (US) has suspended the execution of a Prague court's decision on the extradition admissibility pending its own decision on Nikulin's complaint.

The US decided on the adjournment in February, and the decision appeared in the database of its verdicts on Tuesday.

The date of the US's decision cannot be anticipated, US spokeswoman Miroslava Sedlackova said.

If Nikulin had not turned to the US with his complaint, his extradition would have now depended only on the decision on Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO), since the Prague Municipal Court stated last year that he can be extradited to either of the two countries that had applied for it, which are the USA and Russia.

A constitutional complaint like Nikulin's does not have a suspensive effect. However, the US can decide on a suspension if it does not go counter to any important public interest and if the execution of the challenged decision would do a much bigger harm to the complainant than the harm someone would suffer as a result of the decision's suspension.

These conditions have been met in Nikulin's case, the US stated.

"The US...has decided to adjourn the possibility of the execution [of the extradition] without anticipating the result of its debate on [Nikulin's] constitutional complaint," the US wrote.

Nikulin, 30, has been under arrest in Prague since October 2016 based on an international arrest warrant issued by the USA. The USA suspects him of a hacking attack on the Linkedin and Formspring social networks and the Dropbox file hosting service in 2012-13. Russia accused him of a rather small online theft from 2009.

The USA asked the Czech Foreign Ministry for Nikulin's extradition on November 16, 2016. The Czech Justice Ministry later received a Russian request for his extradition also issued on November 16, 2016, and based on an arrest warrant from November 10, 2016.

Pelikan recently said he would decide on whether to extradite Nikulin to the USA or Russia mainly based on the seriousness of the crimes he is suspected of. He will also take into account which of the two countries was the first to actively apply for Nikulin's extradition.

Czech President Milos Zeman has asked Pelikan to decide that Nikulin be extradited to Russia.

Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek would not comment on the issue on Tuesday.

He said the president has the right to invite members of the cabinet for consultations. "These are tete-a-tete talks. Diplomatic restraint advises to respect such conversations' private character," Ovcacek continued, refusing to say what position Zeman conveyed to Pelikan at their meeting.

The Justice Ministry respects the US decision, its spokesman Jakub Riman told CTK.

The development of the case cannot be anticipated, Riman said, when asked for how long the decision on Nikulin's extradition might remain suspended.

According to some sources from the ministry, the suspension may in fact block the extradition for long, even for up to years.

Nikulin previously unsuccessfully applied for Czech asylum. The lawsuit he filed against the Interior Ministry in this respect will be discussed by the Prague Municipal Court in the Prague-Pankrac prison, where Nikulin stays, on Friday.

Daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday that a Czech man, who was detained in Crimea last year and had been wanted by the Czech law enforcement bodies since 2000, was extradited home based on Prague's request in October.

"I am convinced that this was due to the Nikulin case. Russia would never extradite anyone from Crimea if it were not interested in this. I think this was a swap," LN quoted the released Czech's defence lawyer Jan Svarc as saying.

His client, convicted at home of financial frauds 18 years ago, is now waiting for the result of the state attorney's appeal against the decision.

Citing a diplomatic source, LN writes that three people were arrested in Crimea and all of them were extradited to Prague last October and December.

"According to LN's information, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned these extraditions during his talks with Milos Zeman as Russia's gesture aimed to gain 'its' man," LN wrote, referring to Zeman-Putin meetings in Beijing and Sochi last May and November, respectively.

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