The 22-year-old Canadian man charged for his alleged role in a massive Yahoo hack claims he’s innocent and will fight extradition charges to the U.S., his attorney said on Friday after his first appearance in an Ontario court.
Karim Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan, was arrested at his home in Hamilton on Tuesday as U.S. officials also indicted two Russian intelligence officers and Alexsay Belan, a Latvian hacker who was added to the FBI’s most wanted list in 2013. All face computer hacking, espionage, and other criminal charges related to the unprecedented data breach of more than 500 million Yahoo user accounts. The two Russians and Belan are believed to be living as fugitives in Russia.
Baratov appeared in Hamilton bail court video link wearing an orange jumpsuit. His hearing is scheduled for April 5, ahead of what’s expected to be a lengthy extradition battle.
“The social media and USA have made great efforts to distort the truth of who Karim Baratov is, and as has already been stated, we consider to be a political scapegoat!” Baratov’s lawyer, Amedeo DiCarlo, wrote in a statement sent to reporters. “He is a smart and successful 22-year-old who is caught up in a cyber media frenzy full of unfounded allegations. We are more than confident the public will have all the answers they need.”
According to the U.S. federal indictment, Baratov was contracted by the Russian intelligence officers to access “individual user accounts at Google and other providers (but not Yahoo)” and give them the passwords. In turn, the Russians allegedly used these passwords to hack into the user accounts of Russian and American business and political leaders.
VICE News reported Wednesday that Baratov’s social media accounts showed his passion for luxury cars. He continuously boasted about how much money he earned, pointing to various vague “online projects.” One website registered by him in 2014 offers an email hacking service.
Baratov is the only one of the four accused who could be extradited to face his alleged crimes, as Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.