Russian computer scientist arrested in Spain

Russian computer scientist arrested in Spain

Pyotr Levashov has been remanded in custody, accused of controlling a major botnet involved in US election hacking
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Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer following US allegations of large-scale hacking, although exact details over the case remain unclear.

Pyotr Levashov was picked up at Barcelona airport on Friday “by officers of the police technological investigation unit following an international complaint” a Spanish police spokesman said, adding that he had later been transferred to Madrid.

Police said Mr Levashov controlled a botnet called Kelihos, hacking information and installing malicious software in hundreds of thousands of computers.

The arrest was part of a “complex inquiry carried out in collaboration with the FBI,” police said.

Mr Levashov is subject to a US international arrest warrant and a Spanish court will hear whether he can be extradited.

Much of his alleged activity involved ransomware - blocking a computer's access to certain information and demanding a ransom for its release.

Mr Levashov's wife Maria told Russian broadcaster Russia Today (RT) that the arrest had been made in connection with allegations that Russians had hacked the US presidential election.

She said Spanish police had told her the arrest was in connection with “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband and is linked to [Donald] Trump's victory.”

However, AFP quoted a source close to the matter in Washington as saying that Mr Levashov's detention was "not tied to anything involving allegations of Russian interference with the US election".

In mid-January, another Russian computer scientist wanted by the US, Stanislav Lisov, was arrested at Barcelona's El Prat airport.

Source: AFP, BBC


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