American accused in massive Wall Street cybertheft deported

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An American man whom US prosecutors have accused of organizing the largest known cyberattack on Wall Street was arrested and appeared in US court this week after being deported from Russia to the United States.

Lawyers for Joshua Aaron, 32, confirmed that he arrived in New York around midday Wednesday aboard a commercial flight from Moscow. He made his first US federal court appearance Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of orchestrating the hack.

US prosecutors have accused Aaron and two Israeli men of orchestrating the theft of data from more than 100 million customers from US companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The group then used that information to manipulate stocks and similar schemes that brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, US prosecutors say.

US Attorney Preet Bharara called the eight-year scheme “securities fraud on cyber-steroids.”

The office of Aaron’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told RFE/RL that its client would appear in court December 15.

US authorities issued an arrest warrant for Aaron in July 2015, just two months after he arrived in Russia via Ukraine. His Israeli partners were extradited to the United States a year later.

Aaron has been held in a Moscow immigration detention center since being arrested by Moscow police in May 2016 for alleged immigration violations.

According to Bloomberg, he had applied for refugee status, but a Russian judge later ordered him deported.

Russian hackers

The deportation comes amid growing alarm about the extent to which Russian computer hackers have penetrated US government systems, political parties, or other organizations, and whether the election that Republican President-elect Donald Trump won was tainted.

The US intelligence community in October publicly accused the Russian government of being behind intrusions into Democratic Party organizations, and the final days of the US election campaign were overshadowed by questions of Russian hacking.

Anonymous, the hacker group, declared Wall Street their primary target in May.

Trump has rejected allegations that Russia tried to help him get elected and has said the cyberattacks could have come from other governments or private actors.

In an unrelated case, a Russian man wanted for allegedly hacking US websites, including the social-networking site LinkedIn, is the focus of a tug-of-war between US and Russian officials, both of whom want him deported from the Czech Republic.

Yevgeny Nikulin has been held in a Czech jail since his arrest in October, with the assistance of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Washington wants him extradited to the United States to face charges, something Moscow has fought.