Israel Extends Extradition Date of Imprisoned Russian Hacker to U.S.

Although the state filed for the extension after expiration of original deadline, it was granted in light of talks to release hacker in exchange for Israeli woman held in Russia on drug charges

The Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov in March, 2016.
Courtesy of Channel 13 News

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to extend Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov's extradition request to the United States for another 60 days, despite the state filing its request after the original deadline set for it had expired.

Burkov's attorny agreed to the extension request, with the new deadline being set for December 3.

Israel had refused a prisoner swap deal suggested by Russia, according to which Burkov would be freed in exchange for the release of 25-year-old Naama Issachar, who was sentenced to 7.5 years behind bars in Russia after she was found carrying a small amount of hashish while she was traveling to Israel from India through the Moscow airport in April. 

Speaking to Israeli media, Burkov said that "myself and Naama are being held in jail as a result of political games."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin discussed Monday the possibility of Russia pardoning Issachar, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said. The phone conversation took place after Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin officially appealed to Putin to consider the unique circumstances of the case and pardon Issachar.

Israelis hold signs calling for the release of Israeli Naama Issachar during a demonstration In Tel Aviv, Israel, October 19, 2019.
Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Two months ago, Israel's High Court of Justice approved the extradition of Burkov to the United States following a request from the FBI, for felonies related to computer and credit card fraud. The extradition request was accepted after the American secret service launched an investigation into online credit card fraud.

According to the extradition law, if a suspect is not transferred outside the borders of Israel within 60 days from the time the court decides that they can be extradited - the declaration is canceled. However, the law allows the extradition to be extended at the request of the Attorney General or State Attorney. Since the initial decision was made in August, the state has refrained from implementing it. Justice Minister Amir Ohana has said since the case was published that no decision has yet been made to extradite Burkov to the U.S.

Issachar's family met with Ohana and the head of the international department at the State Prosecutor’s Office, Yuval Kaplinsky, last week, in an attempt to prevent Burkov's extradition to U.S. authorities. Their lawyer said they would consider appealing to the Supreme Court if a decision is made that does not serve Issachar's best interest.