Outraged Russian government officials have accused the U.S. government of “kidnapping” following the Secret Service’s weekend arrest of a suspected Russian hacker in Guam.
Thirty-year-old Roman Valerevich Seleznev was picked up by federal agents over the July 4 holiday for allegedly hacking U.S. retailers between October 2009 and February 2011 according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“We consider this as the latest unfriendly move from Washington,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in reference to the arrest Tuesday. “This is not the first time the U.S. side, ignoring a bilateral treaty … on mutual assistance in criminal matters, has gone ahead with what amounts to the kidnapping of a Russian citizen.”
Seleznev’s indictment charges the hacker, who is a Russian citizen, with penetrating retailers’ point-of-sale checkout systems in order to steal and sell more than 200,000 credit card numbers. He has also been accused of attempting to defraud financial institutions including Capital One, Chase Bank, Citibank and Key Bank along with local businesses in Seattle, New York City, Phoenix, Idaho, Maryland and Maine.
In the case of Seattle’s Broadway Grill, Seleznev programmed a restaurant computer to save every credit card number swiped from December 2009 to October 2010 to a text file and send it to servers controlled by the hacker, resulting in the theft of more than 32,000 numbers from a single establishment.
According to Russian media, Seleznev is the son of Russian parliament member Valery Seleznev, who openly speculated whether or not his son was apprehended as a potential bargaining chip to trade with Russia for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who has taken up asylum from U.S. espionage charges in Moscow.
“For all I know they may be demanding a ransom tomorrow. Or try to exchange him for Snowden or somebody. One can only wonder,” the elder Seleznev told RT.
“Kidnapping is a crime. The country must protect its citizens, and Roman should come back to Russia,” Seleznev told ITAR-TASS.