Israel has agreed to extradite a Russian hacker wanted for crimes committed in the United States despite pressure to exchange him for an Israeli jailed in Russia on charges of smuggling a minute amount of an illegal substance, The Times of Israel reported.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana signed the extradition order for Aleksey Burkov, a cyber specialist who was arrested in Israel in 2015 at the request of Interpol. He is wanted in the U.S. on embezzlement charges in a massive credit card scheme that saw him allegedly steal millions of dollars from American consumers.
“The decision was made after many in-depth deliberations in recent weeks with various parties, among them political and legal figures,” a statement from Ohana said.
Lawyers for the family of Naama Issachar, sentenced earlier this month to seven and a half years in prison by a Russian court for possession of an illegal substance, said:
“We regret the decision to sign the extradition order, as it could determine Naama’s fate and harm her rights.”
Issachar’s family had met with Ohana to plead against the extradition, and said they would consider appealing to the High Court of Justice.
Issachar, 26, was arrested in April after 10 grams of an illegal substance were found in her bag during a stopover in Moscow. She was flying from India to Israel, and at no point intended to exit the airport in Russia.
Israeli officials were quoted in media reports earlier this month saying that Yerushalayim declined an offer by Moscow to exchange Burkov for Issachar. Russia also wants to extradite Burkov and has been pressuring Israel to return him.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a formal request to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking to pardon Issachar. Moscow would only say that Putin would consider the request.
Ohana explained the government’s position in an interview with Kan: “I suggest not creating a very dangerous precedent here, that each time there is a country that wants to have someone extradited, it captures an Israeli and makes a scapegoat of them.”