Latvian Government Votes To Extradite Suspected Creator Of Gozi Trojan

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Deniss Calovskis claims he is innocent, will appeal the decision with European Court of Human Rights

On Tuesday, the Latvian government voted to extradite Deniss “Miami” Calovskis, the man accused of helping create the infamous Gozi Trojan, to the US, where he could spend up to 67 years in prison.

The decision was approved by a ministerial vote of seven to five, after Latvian courts rejected the bid to extradite Calovskis twice. The country’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics previously described the punishment facing the alleged hacker as “disproportionate”.

Calovskis denies any wrongdoing. His lawyer, Saulvedis Varpins, has told the local news agency Delfi.lv that he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to stop the extradition process.

Playing politics

The government made the decision to extradite the 27-year-old Calovskis despite widespread public support for the alleged hacker. If the process goes ahead, Calovskis will become the second person to ever be sent from Latvia to stand trial in the US.

Cybersecurity, Hack © Anatema Shutterstock 2012First discovered in early 2007, Gozi was allegedly created by Calovskis, Mihai Paunescu from Romania and Nikita Kuzmin from Russia. It has been used around the world to commit financial fraud, by some estimates infecting at least one million machines, including around 200 computers at NASA.

In an interview with the local media, Calovskis said he has never met his alleged accomplices, doesn’t know anything about Gozi, hasn’t participated in its development and didn’t earn any money through illegal activities. He claims his job is to fix computers and create websites.

Rinkevics remains opposed to the extradition. He has said that the government has to be careful since the decision it makes will create a precedent for all future cyber crime-related extradition cases.

Once it found its way onto a computer, Gozi pilfered bank account login data, before sending it back to the hackers’ servers. The source code for the Trojan was put on sale in 2009 for around $50,000, with the malware sellers getting a cut of whatever the buyers subsequently made from their illicit activities.

In January, a global effort involving police from the UK, Latvia, Romania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Switzerland and the FBI saw the three charged with fraud and computer-related offences. The arrests came after a two-and-a-half year investigation, which uncovered criminal activity going way back to 2005.

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