For some reason, Russia doesn't want foreign countries capturing its criminals for them. Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry went so far as to issue a travel advisory to its citizens, advising them not to leave Russia so they don't get caught in a foreign country that allows for extradition to the United States. The primary recipients of the notice seem to be Russia's hackers, which means extraditions and prosecutions for hacking crimes may start to decrease as a result of this warning.
“Practice shows that the trials of those who were actually kidnapped and taken to the United States are biased, based on shaky evidence” and are slanted against the Russians, the notice warns.
The notice was triggered in part by the June arrest of alleged Russian hacker Aleksander Panin, who’s charged in the U.S. with a $5 million online banking caper. Panin was picked up in the Dominican Republic on an Interpol Red Notice and shipped off to the U.S. in July. Russia said at the time the extradition was “vicious”, “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.”
You might recall that back in July, U.S. authorities indicted five men in connection with possibly the largest credit card heist ever. Although Vladimir Drinkman was caught back in July, and Albert Gonzalez had already been caught prior to this, Aleksandr Kalinin and Roman Kotov remain at large - as do a whole host of other hackers wanted by the FBI for various other high-profile online crimes.
At the root of the controversy is the fact that Moscow doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Washington, but it does have a lot of transnational crime. Since Russia emerged as the wellspring of for-profit computer intrusion in the late 1990s, U.S. law enforcement has had little success getting them prosecuted locally.
While no country likes to see its citizens extradited and tried in a foreign court, it's hard to say that this advisory is reasonable on Russia's part when there is no doubt that there are crimes being committed against residents of a foreign country by its own citizens. This notice also applies to drug traffickers and international smugglers - not just hackers, though that is where most of the damage to other residents of other nations is coming from.
Looking the other way is one thing, but isn't warning known criminals to not travel outside the country tantamount to aiding and abetting? On the other hand, a genuine concern by a country for its citizens not being snatched up by foreign police for crimes they possibly didn't commit could be considered reasonable. What do you think?
"Looking the other way is one thing, but isn't warning known criminals to not travel outside the country tantamount to aiding and abetting? On the other hand, a genuine concern by a country for its citizens not being snatched up by foreign police for crimes they possibly didn't commit could be considered reasonable. What do you think?"
I think it tends forwards the former. While an argument can be made that it is attempting to protect Russian citizens from prosecution for crimes they did not commit, I think the obvious fact is that a majority of hacking indictments do indeed target the correct person. Given recent other political situations and moves, this is highly provocative and another indicator of the growing tensions and not just a lack of cooperation between the two countries, but an intentional lack thereof.
Just my own opinion and feel free to heartily disagree.
Either way, the move is NOT good for the security industry in general as it creates what is in effect a safe haven for the criminal hackers.
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