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Russia Taking Steps to Protect Russian Hackers From Extradition to U.S.

Russia: Over the past several months, a campaign has been seen wherein Russian officials are working to actively protect Russian hackers from being extradited to the United States.  In some instances, the Russian government is arresting foreigners on exaggerated charges and then offering to exchange them for Russian hackers being held by the arrested person’s government in an attempt to stop the hackers from being sent to the United States.  There are also claims that Russian officials have even resorted to bribery in an attempt to block U.S. prosecution and investigation efforts.  In one instance, Russian officials charged an Israeli citizen with drug smuggling after allegedly finding nine grams of marijuana on the Israeli citizen during a layover at the Moscow airport; the charge could result in an eight-year sentence.

Analyst Notes

This comes after multiple arrests of hackers by the U.S. Justice Department–not only from Russia but China as well. U.S. law enforcement has been successfully coordinating with foreign agencies to take Russian and Chinese hackers into custody while they are traveling outside of Russia and China. Steps like these will likely only continue to be implemented by Russia, and probably China as well, as long as the United States continues to successfully arrest and prosecute foreign hackers. It is important to ensure that the local laws are fully understood and followed when traveling in, or even changing planes, through nations like Russia and China to ensure that you are protected as much as possible from being arrested and used as leverage for a prisoner exchange.