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Russia accuses US of ‘hunting’ Russians after $20 million hacker is expedited

Embassy of Russia in Washington, D.C (Kent Wang/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia’s Embassy to Washington says it has lodged a formal diplomatic protest after Israel extradited a Russian national to the United States, where he is suspected of stealing more than $20 million from U.S. consumers through credit card fraud.

In a November 13 Facebook statement, the embassy also accused Washington of “hunting” Russian citizens across the world.

The statement said that Russia had formally sent an official note to the U.S. State Department, demanding Aleksei Burkov’s rights be respected.

The U.S. Justice Department says Burkov was “charged with wire fraud, access device fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, computer intrusions, identity theft, and money laundering” in the Eastern Court in Virginia on November 12.

“According to court documents, Burkov allegedly ran a website called ‘Cardplanet’ that sold payment card numbers (e.g., debit and credit cards) that had been stolen primarily through computer intrusions. Many of the cards offered for sale belonged to U.S. citizens. The stolen credit card data sold on Burkov’s site has resulted in over $20 million in fraudulent purchases made on United States credit cards,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

If convicted on all counts, Burkov may face up to 80 years in prison.​

Burkov was arrested in December 2015 while leaving Israel.

Last month, Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana signed an extradition order to the United States for the suspect.

On November 10, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected Burkov’s appeal amid Russia’s protests.

Russia had proposed to exchange Burkov for a U.S.-Israeli national Naama Issachar, who was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison in Moscow last month for possession of marijuana.

A potential pardon for Issachar, 26, was reportedly discussed last month when Russian President Vladimir Putin called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his 70th birthday.

Born in New Jersey, Issachar was arrested in April after police found nine grams of cannabis in her luggage during a layover at a Moscow airport.

Issachar was flying from India to Israel when she was detained and wasn’t supposed to exit the airport in Russia.