Hearing in Prague on Russian hacker extradition delayed

PRAGUE (AP) -- An extradition hearing in the Czech Republic for a Russian man who faces U.S. charges of hacking computers at American companies has been delayed for procedural reasons.

Judge Jaroslav Pytloun delayed the hearing until May 30 due to formal objections from Yevgeniy Nikulin's defense lawyers.

They say Nikulin has not received a Russian translation of the previous decision of the state prosecutors that he can be extradited to either the United States or Russia, and one of the lawyers claimed he was not formally informed that Nikulin can be extradited to the United States.

Thursday's hearing was held at Prague's Pankrac prison, a rare measure adopted due to security concerns.

Czech authorities arrested Nikulin in Prague on Oct. 5 in cooperation with the FBI after Interpol issued an international warrant. He is accused of hacking computers and stealing information from LinkedIn, Dropbox and other companies.

Moscow also wants him extradited on a separate charge of internet theft in 2009. Russian officials had previously said they were working to prevent his extradition to the U.S.

The 29-year-old has denied any wrongdoing. His parents were present at the prison on Thursday.

"He rejects he's a hacker at all," his defense attorney Martin Sadilek said. "He has never worked with computers. His only interest is cars."

Sadilek said Nikulin faces up a total of 54 years in prison on the United States if tried and convicted, and up to eight years in Russia.

He said the U.S. charges are "literally" based on claims by FBI agents.

The alleged hacker claimed he was approached by U.S. authorities in November while he was fingerprinted in the absence of his previous lawyer.

"He was offered to falsely testify that he was cooperating in the attack on the Democratic Party" in exchange for money and a chance to live in the United States, Sadilek said.

The U.S. has accused Russia of coordinating the theft and disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other institutions and individuals in the U.S. to influence the outcome of the election. Russia has vigorously denied that.

There was no indication this case was connected to that accusation.