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Latvia Will Extradite Suspected Hacker to U.S., Minister Says

Latvia’s government agreed to extradite a suspected hacker to the U.S., where he’ll be tried for allegedly helping create a computer virus that aided frauds from America to Europe, Justice Minister Janis Bordans said.

Deniss Calovskis was one of three people charged by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan in January with distributing a virus that infected more than 1 million computers worldwide, allowing thieves to steal data and millions of dollars from online accounts. The Gozi virus infected 40,000 computers in the U.S., as well as machines in Germany, the U.K., Poland, France, Finland, Italy and Turkey, according to prosecutors. Calovskis denies wrongdoing.

“This decision was based on decisions by the Supreme Court and the general prosecutor,” Bordans said, according to a recording of comments posted today on the cabinet’s website. Seven ministers backed the extradition, five voted against, one abstained and one was on holiday, Martins Panke, a spokesman for Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, said by text message.

Calovskis faces 67 years in jail in the U.S., a “disproportionate” punishment, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said July 30 in a statement on the website of the Latvian-language magazine IR. Rinkevics said he’d oppose the extradition.

Calovskis, also known as Miami, is charged with five counts of conspiracy. Prosecutors say he developed “web injects” that changed the appearance of banking websites that were viewed on infected computers, making the Gozi virus more dangerous. Victims were fooled into providing personal information that was used by others to steal from bank accounts, according to prosecutors.

“I am like a hostage in this situation,” Calovskis said Aug. 3 in an interview with Latvian television. “I don’t know about the Gozi virus. I haven’t helped any schemers to get money and I haven’t received any.”

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