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The young British man arrested in Spain and accused by the United States of accessing 130 Twitter accounts, including that of President Biden, refused Thursday to be extradited to that country, where he fears being sentenced to “de facto permanent imprisonment.”
At the hearing, which was held today at the Audiencia Nacional, the defendant also asked that, if handed over and sentenced, he could serve his sentence in the United Kingdom.
The young man, 22, was arrested last summer in the province of Malaga (Spain) and accused by the United States of forming a plot that in 2020 was dedicated to exchanging illegal access to Twitter accounts for payments in cryptocurrency, according to the claim contained in the briefs of the Prosecutor’s Office, which supported his surrender.
The defense added as reasons to oppose the surrender that the defendant is not an American citizen, that the acts of which he is accused were allegedly committed in Spain, and that the United Kingdom has the capacity to prosecute them.
The lawyer also referred to the possibility that he could be tried in Spain, where he resided and where the acts were allegedly committed.
In the event that the court agrees to extradite him, the lawyer asked for guarantees from the United States that he would not be sentenced to “de facto permanent imprisonment,” since the crimes for which he is accused—such as conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States or criminal association to commit computer intrusions—could add up to 94 years in prison.
According to the extradition demand, the defendant communicated with a hacker and two other individuals who acted as intermediaries to access the accounts, and the organization thus seized cryptocurrencies worth about $784,000 (€685,247).
It is also blamed for computer intrusions into social network accounts associated with two public figures and the cyberstalking of a minor.
The investigation in Spain began in 2020 when police were monitoring an alleged group of cybercriminals dedicated to committing online scams.
As the investigation progressed, the FBI reported the link between the arrested man and the illegitimate intrusion into more than a hundred Twitter accounts and other social networks, including those of Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.