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European court puts Chalovskis under temporary protection; extradition to USA is postponed

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe Latvian Cabinet of Minister’s representative received the reply letter from the European Court for Human Rights on Thursday, August 8. In it, the ECHR announces the decision to initiate temporary protection measures in the Chalovskis case.

The ECHR states that Chalovskis cannot be handed over the the U.S. while the court continues to review his case.

BNN had previously reported that the Latvian government has decided to hand over its citizen Denis Chalovskis, who is charged with committing cyber-crimes, to the U.S.

Chalovskis’ extradition to the U.S. has been on the political agenda for some time. The final decision was delayed because the process of his extradition was appealed in the Constitution Court. Also, the political parties do not share each other’s opinions on the matter – the Reform Party opposes the extradition.

The U.S. Federal Prosecutors have presented charges to three possible Eastern European cyber-criminals – Russian citizen Nikita Kuzmin, Romanian citizen Mihai Paunesku and Latvian citizen Denis Chalovskis aka “Miami”. American law enforcement institutions believe the three aforementioned individuals are responsible for modifying the Gozi Virus. This virus has infected more than a million computers worldwide and approximately 40,000 in USA. It also ended up in the computers of NASA.

After finally locating Chalovskis, the U.S. operatives carried out a special operation to apprehend Chalovskis, arresting him in his apartment in Imanta on December 4, 2012. He was then put under arrest and awaited the verdict of the court. On January 31, the Supreme Court of Latvia left the decision to allow the extradition of Chalovskis to USA in force.

Cholovskis faces 67 years of prison in USA. However, lead researcher of the Mathematics and Informatics Institute of the University of Latvia Bruno Martuzan notes that it is the maximum possible punishment. In reality, however, no hacker was ever sentenced for more than 20 years in USA. The researcher believes Chalovski could have gotten away with one or two years of prison and a fine.

Chalovskis claims he did not intentionally work on the creation of the virus. He says his knowledge of the subject is not that good to allow him to do something like that. One of his lawyers has said that Chalovskis had merely “repaired a few errors here and there”. He then clarified that his client does not admit his guilt.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics says Chalovskis should be allowed to stay in Latvia for the duration of his punishment.

“My opinion on Chalovskis’ case is based on judicial arguments that were provided by professionals – Latvia should make sure the rights of its citizens are respected,” – he said.

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