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Const. Court: US plea for Nikulin’s extradition well-founded

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Brno, April 3 (CTK) – The Czech Constitutional Court revealed nothing that would challenge the independence of the American judiciary in the case of Russian Yevgenyi Nikulin, charged with hacking social networks, the court said in its verdict released on its website on Tuesday.

The U.S. extradition request was well founded, the court said in the verdict, which rejected Nikulin’s complaint against his extradition to the United States.

One week ago, the Constitutional Court decided behind closed doors that Nikulin may be extradited to the USA. Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan then decided on his extradition.

Nikulin’s lawyer Martin Sadilek said he respects the decision of the Constitutional Court. He said he is not in contact with Nikulin who was extradited to the USA last Friday.

Sadilek told CTK that an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is possible now. He said Nikulin’s parents were deeply affected by the extradition of their son to the USA and he would discuss this step with them only after the situation calms down.

The Czech police arrested Nikulin in 2016 based on a U.S. arrest warrant. Russia asked for his extradition, too, and the case turned into a battle between the USA and Russia. Czech courts ruled that he may be extradited to both countries. The USA suspects him of massive hacking, while Russia says he was responsible for a rather small online theft.

The Constitutional Court said the high sentence Nikulin is facing in the USA is no reason for not meeting the U.S. request to extradite him.

The court said the U.S. authorities presented a number of evidence indicating that Nikulin’s prosecution is justified. An American court that issued an international arrest warrant on Nikulin confirmed this, it added.

The Constitutional Court concluded that the Czech judiciary answered the reservations concerning the political background of the case. Even if any U.S. bodies were biased and followed their own political goals, they are supervised by the public prosecution and the independent judicial system, it said.

“During the whole criminal proceedings in the Czech Republic, no circumstance challenging the independence of American judicial bodies has been revealed. There is no legal reason for not extraditing the complainant in such a situation,” the Constitutional Court said.

The USA charged Nikulin with hacking related to the Linkedin, Formspring and Dropbox social media firms. It has been speculated that Nikulin is connected with the hacking of emails of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Nikulin’s lawyers filed several complaints against his arrest and extradition, but Czech courts rejected all of them.

The United States thanked the Czech Republic for extraditing Nikulin, while Russia criticised the step and warned that it would affect the Russian-Czech relations.

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