Vladislav Klyushin, the founder of a Russian cybersecurity company, has been accused of meddling along with the Kremlin, in the 2016 US elections, as reported by his lawyer, Oliver Ciric. He has been charged with hacking into the Democratic emails and turning the 2016 elections in favor of former President, Donald Trump.
Klyushin was arrested in Switzerland in March when he went for a vacation with his family. He was arrested on the grounds of hacking US companies and stealing data. FBI investigators accused Vladislav and his accomplices of stealing confidential data from the US companies and using that to make millions off the stock market.
But, according to his lawyer Ciric, these accusations of insider trading are false, and are only used as “pretext” to bring him to the US and charge him with election tampering. Currently, he is being held at a maximum security jail in Switzerland.
According to Swiss law, it is illegal to extract any person from the land of Switzerland if he is accused of any political crime. So the US justice department has requested his extradition on the grounds of data hacking.
Meanwhile, the legal team of Klyushin is fighting the extradition request on the grounds of the political nature of data hacking.
Switzerland had agreed to the extradition of Klyushin in June, but the legal team is still fighting their decision in its highest court.
Connection to Kremlin
Vladislav Klyushin is the founder of M13 company, which provides cybersecurity services to Russia and Kremlin’s government bodies. He is believed to be close to Alexei Gromov, the administrative official responsible for Kremlin’s control over media.
Gromov, 61, was sanctioned by the US in April for seeking “to exacerbate tensions in the United States by discrediting the 2020 US elections process”.
Russia’s unsuccessful attempt
The attempts of Russia to secure the extradition of Vladislav to his own country have been unsuccessful. Russia’s bid to Switzerland was recently rejected. Reasons cited by the country are still unknown, but according to Swiss, “the facts described in the request are not punishable under Swiss law”.
Although Klyushin has not been publically charged by the US with hacking, one of the GRU agents indicted by the US court is also a co-defendant in the insider trading case, according to a copy of an affidavit provided to The Times by a source. Ivan Yermakov, 35, is said by Washington to be a member of the Fancy Bear hacking group, a GRU cyber-unit that is also alleged to have targeted the German and Norwegian parliaments, as well as Nato. He is also a senior official with Klyushin’s M13 company, Ciric said. He is thought to be in Moscow. The MI3 company was recently awarded a 295 million rouble (£2.9 million) state contract to monitor messaging services and social media for discussions of a political nature, including about opposition groups in the run-up to next month’s parliamentary elections, the Open Media website reported.
Accusations on Vladislav Klyushin
US has indicted Vladislav and his accomplices of hacking into the computers of Democratic Party officials and state election administrators.
In 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the major candidates for the President. However, around 20,000 emails and many other files of the governing body were hacked and leaked in June and July 2016. Those files caused international sensation at that time.
Those files indicated the partial favoring of Clinton. These email leaks “coincided” with Trump’s bad news days of groping women and child trafficking. The leak caused damage to Clinton’s image and removed the confidence of people in the vote. All of this led to Hillary Clinton’s loss of presidency to Donald Trump.
Investigations were carried out by the US cybersecurity team, CrowdStrike, and accusations of Russian involvement quickly followed. The firm concluded the involvement of Cosy Bear and Fancy Bear, the hacking groups linked to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and GRU military intelligence.
In 2018, special counsel Robert Mueller filed charges in Washington against 12 alleged Russian GRU officers for hacking the DNC and Clinton’s campaign.
What could happen in US
Once Vladislav Klyushin is extradited to the US on the pretext of data hacking, he might face the charges of 2016 election tampering.
His lawyer, Oliver Ciric said that Vladislav had access to some security information of the Russian government and if he is extradited to the US, he might face physical or psychological pressure to reveal that information.
Once there, he said, the businessman would likely be charged with heading an operation by Russia’s GRU military intelligence service to influence the 2016 election and hack the Democratic rivals of President Trump.
Whether the charges of tampering were true or false, they are yet to be exactly known.