A Russian computer programmer, Pyotr Levashov, has been arrested in Spain for suspected links to the Russian hacking of the US presidential election.
US intelligence officials reported that Russian state-sponsored hacking interfered with the US election in November to sway the election in favour of Donald Trump.
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According to the CIA investigation, Putin personally ordered the hacks in order to prevent the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency.
The arrest of Levashov is expected to be the first casualty in this claim, according to the Russian television station, RT. However, the Russian embassy, Spanish police and the country’s interior minister declined to confirm the reason for the arrest.
As well, a spokesperson for the US justice department’s crime division, Peter Carr, told Reuters:
The US case remains under seal, so we have no information to provide at this time.”
Levashov is reportedly known to be one of the world’s most notorious spam kingpins.
He is said to have run multiple criminal operations that paid virus writers and spammers to install fake antiviruses.
As well as this, he is said to be the Russian partner of Alan Ralsky. Ralsky was jailed in 2009 for being part of a conspiracy that involved sending billions of illegal email advertisements a day.
His team allegedly worked to inflate the price of Chinese penny shares.
Ralsky was expected to be jailed for more than seven years for the crimes however this was lowered to just over four after he co-operated with the FBI investigation.
The alleged hacker Levashov was on holiday with his family in Barcelona, according to RT, when an international warrant was issued by the US to arrest him. He has an extradition hearing scheduled later this week to decide on his case.
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As well as an investigating the Russian hacking of the US election, the FBI is investigating whether Trump’s election campaign was complicit in the hacking which saw the Republican candidate win the White House.
A ranking member of the House intelligence committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, told MSNBC that: “There is more than circumstantial evidence now.”