Guam, Alleged Russian Hacker To Face Indictment In Washington

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29 charges of computer fraud and ‘hacking’

By Gina Tabonares-Reilly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, August 1, 2014) – Roman Seleznev, the Russian detainee tagged as a prolific cyber hacker by United States authorities, will face his indictment in Washington after District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ordered his removal to Washington after confirming the identity of the 30-year-old.

Seleznev, whose feet were shackled, appeared in a blue federal prisoner shirt and khaki shorts. He sat between his local lawyers and an interpreter.

His defense team, led by G. Patrick Civille and Joshua Walsh, was joined by U.S.-based lawyers Ely Goldin and Robert Ray while Assistant U.S. Attorney Marivic David was with U.S. Secret Service Agent David Iacovetti and Seattle-based U.S. Attorney Michael Morgan.

The court spent the day hearing arguments from both parties. At the end of the day, the defense team failed to stop the transfer of Seleznev who was indicted in Seattle and Nevada on charges related to computer hacking and racketeering.

Based on evidence and testimony provided by Dan Schwandener, the U.S. Secret Service agent who picked up Seleznev in the Maldives, and Seattle investigator Michael Steven Fischlin, the court decided the government had met the burden of proof that the person they detained is the same person who was indicted in Seattle.

For more than four hours, the defense team scrutinized the government witnesses in an effort to prove that Seleznev may have been a different person than the one named in the indictment.

Same name

At one point, Civille said that a search made on a Russian website could bring at least 162 people with the same name as the defendant.

Fischlin testified that Seleznev’s identity was established via computer forensic investigation with the aid of several search warrants served to yahoo.com and PayPal.

The email address allegedly used by Seleznev was traced to the defendant’s residential address in Russia and several screenshots of PayPal activity reports were linked to Seleznev.

Goldin, however, questioned the investigator on whether there was direct evidence that could link the credit card or financial records of the detainee to the PayPal transaction, or whether a check was made to determine if there were other adult individuals living at the same address.

Before the back and forth on Seleznev’s identity, the defense tried to ask the court to postpone the hearing for discharge, saying they needed to get more evidence and documentation about the arrest of the detainee.

Morgan, however, objected, saying there was nothing in the court rules that requires the government to provide all discoveries to the defense during removal proceedings.

The court denied the continuance and proceeded to the motion for discharge and release.

Schwandener took the witness stand and told the court that he did not arrest the detainee while in the Maldives and it was the Maldivian police force who controlled the situation.

He clarified the arrest was made only when the detainee was already in the private jet chartered by the U.S. Secret Service when the plane was no longer on Maldives soil.

Kidnapping?

The defense questioned the manner of arrest, branding it at as kidnapping and a violation of the extradition treaty between the two countries.

To prove there was a violation and outrageous conduct on the part of U.S. Secret Service, the defense also questioned the issuance of an Interpol red notice.

According to the agent, Seleznev was turned over to him by the Maldives police after confirming the identity of the detainee as stated in the Interpol notice.

Schwandener said he met Seleznev at the tourist police station inside the Maldives airport. He said that after checking the defendant’s identity based on a birthmark consistent with the photograph in the Interpol notice, he confirmed Seleznev’s identity by asking if his name is Roman Seleznev and the detainee replied, "Yes."

The agent said he introduced himself, showed a copy of the indictment and a warrant of arrest.

They got hold of Seleznev’s travel documents, including receipts for tickets, Russian passports and a departure record that confirmed the detainee’s identity.

The defense asserted that Seleznev was not expelled by the Maldives authorities but was forcibly rendered to the United States by outrageous conduct and misrepresentation by the government.

The attorneys insisted that the court cannot order the removal of the detainee because the United States violated international law and the extradition treaty.

Civille said the defense is developing evidence that the United States tricked Maldives authorities after it failed to obtain a search warrant from a Maldivian judge.

"The U.S. ignored the Maldives judicial process. We want to know if the Maldives denied the warrant of arrest and we have reliable information to support this allegation," Civille told the court.

Once it is proven that Seleznev was taken in an illegal manner, the defense team said the only remedy is to return him outside of United States jurisdiction.

Indicting district

Morgan, however, argued that such issues must be addressed to the indicting district which is Washington.

"These are merely allegations. There was no concrete proof. They may have suspicions but it’s not on the record. There was no single proof of U.S. misconduct," Morgan said.

Seleznev is facing 29 charges of computer fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of unauthorized cyber-snooping devices used for allegedly "hacking into point-of-sale systems at retailers throughout the United States," a statement by the U.S. Secret Service alleges.

Tydingco-Gatewood read Seleznev his rights and remanded him to the U.S. Marshalls.

Arrangements for Seleznev’s removal to Washington will be made after the decision is filed. His exact date of departure to Washington will not be disclosed for security reasons.

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