The United States was able to extradite a 37-year-old Russian national accused of being the mastermind behind the Kelihos botnet.
Peter Yuryevich Levashov, also known as Petr Levashov, Pyotr Levashov, Peter Severa, Petr Severa and Sergey Astakhov, of St. Petersburg, Russia, was arraigned on Friday in Connecticut after he was extradited from Spain, said officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.
Levashov ended up arrested in April last year by Spanish authorities based on a U.S. warrant and has been in custody ever since. The suspect had been on vacation at the time of his arrest, which coincided with a takedown operation targeting the Kelihos botnet. He was indicted two weeks later by a federal grand jury in Connecticut.
Russia had attempted to block his extradition to the United States.
Levashov said he had previously worked for President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, and feared he would be killed if extradited to the U.S. Initial media reports said his arrest may be linked to the U.S. election hacks, but officials denied there was any connection.
The suspect is facing eight charges including causing intentional damage to a protected computer, conspiracy, accessing protected computers in furtherance of fraud, wire fraud, threatening to damage a protected computer, fraud in connection with email, and aggravated identity theft. If found guilty, he faces more than 50 years in prison.
Levashov controlled and operated the Kelihos botnet, using it to send spam, harvest personal information, and deliver other malware, according to U.S. authorities.
At the time of his arrest, investigators said the botnet at times had ensnared as many as 100,000 computers, including the United States.