THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The lawyer for a Russian accused by U.S. authorities of involvement in a huge computer hack that stole and sold at least 160 million credit and debit-card numbers called on a Dutch judge Tuesday to ban his extradition to the United States.
The appeal hearing in The Hague District Court was the latest attempt by Vladimir Drinkman to avoid being sent to New Jersey, where he is one of four Russians and a Ukrainian charged in the sophisticated data breach that resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars over seven years.
U.S. prosecutors have called the hack the largest data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.
Dutch authorities arrested Drinkman in 2012 and approved his extradition in November. Now his lawyer, Bart Stapert, says it should be blocked or, failing that, Dutch authorities should impose a condition that Drinkman serve his sentence in the Netherlands if convicted.
Drinkman was arrested in the Netherlands in June 2012 and has been fighting extradition ever since.
Stapert argued that Drinkman was caught in the middle of a geopolitical struggle between former Cold War adversaries Washington and Moscow and tensions between the Netherlands and Russia. Russia also sought Drinkman's extradition, but only after American authorities filed their request to the Dutch government.
Government attorney Andre ten Broeke rejected that argument, saying Stapert "is giving this case a political charge it does not have or at least played no role in the (justice) minister's decision" to extradite Drinkman.
Stapert said that if Drinkman is first prosecuted in the U.S. and then sent back to the Netherlands, he could subsequently be extradited to Russia to face charges there.
Stapert also told the single judge hearing the case that sending Drinkman to the United States would breach his human rights because he would no longer be able to see his wife and 3-year-old daughter, who live in Russia.
Ten Broeke responded that allowing such an argument could result in blocking every extradition request involving a father of a young child.
A ruling in the extradition appeal was scheduled for Jan. 27.