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Police arrest Russian man allegedly linked to U.S. election hacks

The alleged ‘spam king’ was arrested in Spain.


David Gilmour


Law enforcement in Spain detained a Russian computer programmer on Friday in Barcelona who allegedly has links to the 2016 U.S. presidential election hacks.

Pyotr Levashov was arrested on a U.S. computer crimes warrant that also includes an extradition request, which will be examined by the Spanish courts in the coming weeks.

Levashov is an alleged “spam kingpin” who has operated under the alias Peter Severa, according to several cybersecurity experts who have reported on him in the past. However, a legal source disclosed to the AFP news agency, under anonymity, that the computer engineer was suspected of participation in “hacking the election campaign.”

The allegation was carried by Spanish news website El Confidencial but was raised again when Levashov’s wife, Maria, seemed to confirm in an interview with Russia’s RT broadcaster, a state-run outlet, that her husband had been remanded in connection with the election hacks.

Relaying details of a conversation Maria had with Levashov, who is still in custody, she said that he had told her that he had been asked to create a virus that was “linked to Trump’s election win.”

In January, U.S. intelligence agencies claimed Russia had meddled in the U.S. election and that it had been involved in major pre-election hacks targeting the Democratic National Committee and against individual Democratic officials.

The hacks resulted in damaging revelations for the president’s political party and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, published by WikiLeaks, to the benefit of then-Republican nominee Donald Trump. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied Kremlin involvement, but a number of investigations have been underway in the U.S. to establish the facts.

If the arrest of Levashov is indeed in connection to the election hacks or building the malware that may have facilitated them, he will be the first person charged in connection with the incidents.

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