The Republic of Cyprus extradites its first citizen to the United States.
On 23/01/2020 the Supreme Court has decided for the first time the extradition of a national of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States to face charges of wire and computer fraud, identity theft and extortion. On 17/07/2020 he became the first ever person to be extradited from Cyprus to the United States, where he will appear before the Courts in the Northern District of Georgia.
What was the case about?
The case concerned a young person of Philippino descent, who was a naturalized Cypriot citizen (the Requested Person). The offences for which the Requested Person was ordered to be extradited to the USA related to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and extortion related to a protected computer among other crimes. Between October 2014 and November 2016, the Requested Person worked with co-conspirators to steal personal identifying information from user and customer databases at victim websites in order to extort the websites into paying ransoms under threat of public disclosure of the sensitive data,” the statement said. The Requested Person allegedly obtained the confidential personal information from a variety of sources including a California-based games publisher, a New York hardware company and the Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting Systems which oversees such notable properties as CNN, TNT and TBS. The Requested Person allegedly used proxy servers located in foreign countries to log into online email accounts and send messages to the victim websites threatening to leak the sensitive data unless a ransom was paid.
He is believed to have caused over $550,000 in losses. The extradition was requested by the states of Georgia and Arizona, believing him to be a part of a criminal enterprise.
The District Court concluded that all the requirements of the law and the Treaty were met after the applicant country satisfied the burden of proof that the requested extradition to the USA in relation to the offenses allegedly committed was justified. He therefore ordered the extradition of the requested person to the USA and his detention until his extradition.
Following the decision of the District Court, the Requested Person appealed before the Supreme Court and specifically filed an application for issuance of habeas corpus..
What were the arguments of the Requested Person?
The Requested Person argued that, if he was extradited to the United States of America, he would face undue hardship, due to the fact that he has no family or friends in there, and he suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. This, the Requested Person argued, would lead to suicide attempts and breach his human rights. Testimony was given by the medical professionals who oversee the Requested Person’s treatment in this respect.
The Requested Person also argued that the alleged crimes were committed when he was just a minor, from his mothers’ house in Nicosia. Therefore, he should face trial for his crimes in Cyprus, and the request for extradition should be denied.
What did the court decide?
The Supreme Court rejected the application for habeas corpus. First, it found that the Requested Person was fit to stand trial in the United States, and will “receive fair trial and humane treatment”[i]
The medical documents submitted by the Applicant to prove his medical conditions did not sway the Courts’ decision. The issue of unlawful detention was also brought up in the application for habeas corpus, which was dismissed as the detention was lawful and pursuant to an issued warrant and arrest order.
What happens next?
This is the first case of a Cypriot national to be extradited from Cyprus to the United States.
As the extradition request argues that the Requested Person is a part of a criminal enterprise, the FBI will try to exploit his global connections. When extradited, the Requested Person will stand trial in front of the US courts, and could serve up to twenty years.
This case undoubtedly sets a precedent for crimes committed online, as it shows that no matter the physical location of the criminal, there is the possibility of being extradited. It is also worth noting that the punishment for cybercrimes differs dramatically from country to country.