TALLINN - The Estonian government resolved Friday to extradite Vladimir Chashchin, charged with international cybercrimes and earlier acquitted by an Estonian court, to the US, the press service of the cabinet of ministers announced.
In November 2011, through a cooperative operation dubbed GhostClick by US and Estonian police, six men and one woman were arrested in Tartu and in the suburbs of Tallinn on suspicion of large-scale cyber fraud and money laundering. All the suspects were Estonian citizens.
The Estonian police said the group had been operating since 2007. The hackers would allegedly infect computers with malicious software if users tried to access the websites of, for example, iTunes, Netfix and a number of government agencies, including NASA and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Estonian Prosecutor’s Office reports that the suspects allegedly stole almost $21.5 million and 560,000 euros.
Last December, Chashchin and four other defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence. However, the defendants remained in custody due to an extradition request by the US. The court also ruled that the extradition of the hackers to the US was legally warranted.
In 2011, the US Department of Justice filed a request for the extradition of Chashchin and five other Estonian citizens charged with cybercrimes. Three of the hackers have already been sent to the US. Chashchin will be charged with 27 counts, including cyber fraud, money laundering and illegal property related transactions.