Accused Russian Hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin, a 29 year old Russian citizen currently held in the Czech Republic and wanted on extradition by both Russia and the United States in connection with separate hacking incidents, claims that the United Sates FBI visited him and offered him cash, an apartment, and U.S. citizenship if he confessed to hacking Hillary’s emails on the orders of then candidate Donald Trump.
(Note: When it says Hillary’s emails, it’s hard to know exactly if he is referring to the DNC, Podesta, or both. His letter says Hillary’s emails, and Newsweek interpreted that as Podesta, and The Guardian interpreted it as the DNC. He would have to be asked what he was referring to.)
Nikulin, who describes himself as an used car salesman, is currently wanted by Russia for (per Newsweek):
“In the future, I received a proposal from A [gent]:” You will have to declare that you have broken Hillory Clinton’s mailbox for D. Trump on the orders of V. Putin, you must agree to extradition to the USA, here we will remove all the accusations we will give you Apartment and money, American citizenship “- I refused, soon the” interrogation “was over, the Agent said that they would still come,” Nikulin wrote.
According to Nikulin, this proposal was made to him during the talks on November 14-15. The next conversation took place on February 7, the defendant wrote in the burglary.
“You must say that it was you who broke H. Clinton’s mail that you prepared and penetrated into the democratic network and polling stations on Putin’s orders, you will name the accomplices, agree with extradition, and in America we will solve all the issues, live in an apartment And we will provide for all of you, “- said Nikulin’s proposal, which they allegedly did to him.
We now rewind from May 11 back to October 2016 when this was first reported.
PART I – October 2016
October 19 (CBS News)
Police in the Czech Republic have detained a Russian man suspected of participating in the breach of LinkedIn user information in 2012, the company said Wednesday.
Czech police said the Russian was arrested in cooperation with the FBI within 12 hours, thanks to a rapid exchange of information with American officials. The arrest took place on Oct. 5. It was not immediately clear why the Czech authorities waited so long to publicize it.
The man was only identified as Yevgeniy N. in police video of the arrest.
Back in October, they said it was not related to the hack of the DNC:
It’s interesting that the Justice Department was unaware of the arrest at the time of this CBS report, considering he was arrested on October 5. CBS wonders why it took so long to publish it, but one also can wonder why the Justice Department was still not aware at this of this report on October 19:
The New York Daily News also reported on his arrest and said the following on October 24:
The U.S. has accused Russia of coordinating the theft and disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other institutions and individuals in the U.S. to influence the outcome of the election. Russia has denied that.
There was no indication the LinkedIn case was connected to that accusation.
Interpol had a Red Notice for him. Even right after this occurred, Russia wanted him back. Russia’s objection seems to stem from not wanting the U.S. arresting its citizens via extraterritorial jurisdiction:
Interpol had issued a so-called Red Notice for the alleged Russian hacker, a designation for “wanted international fugitives.”
“The Russian Foreign Ministry and embassy in Prague are actively working with the authorities in order to prevent the extradition of a Russian citizen to the United States,” said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
Here is video of his arrest. He collapsed shortly after and was taken to a psychiatric hospital. They could not explain why he collapsed, but this is relevant because he later is said to be struggling with his physical health while imprisoned:
The New York Times covered the arrest but has been dead silent on his accusations towards the FBI:
So did NBC News:
PART 2 – January 2017
Now we move on to January. The Guardian has been covering this story. Here is what they said in January:
Nikulin, a Russian citizen, was arrested in a restaurant in Prague on 5 October shortly after arriving in the city during a holiday with his girlfriend.
The article says there is no link between what he did and the hacking of Hillary’s Campaign, but they do speculate. Gone is that speculation in a May 30 article I will post following this:
This article then throws out a bizarre suggestion wherein he would have hacked Anthony Weiner’s Formspring page (despite the fact he was arrested for hacking Formspring not recently but from 2012-2013) and somehow had something to do with Hillary’s emails on his laptop?!!
There’s intense lobbying in this case. People from the US and Russian side are talking to the Czech authorities because both really want Nikulin in their countries.”
The article then goes into speculation saying he may know the hackers and mention sealed U.S. court documents. The contents of these will be revealed in the May 30 article.
PART 3 – April 2017
In the month of April, NBC did a story about the arrests of 6 Russian hackers. One of these (not Nikulin) claimed his arrest was due to the election:
The article goes on to list the other five people arrested (Nikulin is one of course).
This article indicates that the Russians always want their hacking suspects back:
Back to May 11, a few weeks before the hearing. This sets up his concerns:
The press lined up to come to his hearing:
The Czech court ultimately gave approval of extradition but this will be pending based on his appeal.
Nikulin took part in street races on the outskirts of Moscow where he would fraternise with the children of Russian oligarchs and politicians. His lawyers say this explains why Nikulin’s Instagram account featured photographs of him with the children of high-ranking officials, including the daughter of the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, one of Putin’s closest confidants. The account was taken offline shortly after Nikulin was arrested.
The FBI, however, isn’t buying what his lawyer is selling:
The affidavit relates solely to the hacking of LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring in 2012, and does not mention any election hacking.
The Guardian article reiterates the earlier point that, yes, the FBI was indeed there:
Nikulin’s lawyer finds the whole thing a bit odd and wonders why a high-ranking FBI agent has traveled all the way to Prague from San Francisco to read Nikulin his rights and have a half hour discussion:
Others also skeptical so The Guardian starts coming up with possible theories.
This fellow here highlights just how unusual this is. Why would the FBI travel all the way to Prague for an extradition request of a guy who hacked several US companies 4-5 years ago?
Of course the U.S. is still refusing to comment. The Czechs aren’t either because I assume they want to stay on good terms with the U.S. I will add that The Department of Justice is now run by one Jeff Sessions who can look into this and comment:
There are frequent reports that Russian authorities waive criminal charges against hackers in return for cooperation with the security agencies.
Both Russia and the US have reportedly put diplomatic pressure on Prague to have Nikulin extradited. The Czech weekly Respekt cited diplomatic sources suggesting that Russia had informally offered to swap Nikulin for a number of Czech citizens wanted by Prague for financial crimes.
The conditions that he was kept in and the location of the hearing were “unprecedented,” with his lawyer saying he hasn’t seen anything like it for even the most hard core criminals…even serial killers.
Nikulin’s mother, who attended the hearing, declined to comment except to say she was worried that her son “looks like skin and bones” and that she believed the case was political.
All in all, he maintains his willingness to go to Russia but does not want to come to the United States…although it looks like that’s where he is going:
Informed sources in Prague said he was expected to send him to the US. An aide to Pelikan said the minister could not comment on the case for now.
This is the final and latest installment done by the AP. It didn’t really get any coverage outside of that, but we can look at their coverage which, as the coverage in April did, focuses on multiple Russian hackers who were elected but does raise Nikulin’s claims. It also brings up two other Russians, one mentioned in the April posting (Levashov), who also indicate their arrests could have something to do with the election hacking:
“This is just an opinion,” she said. “We have no evidence.”
(For the sake of objectivity, I will list the following theory and then include reasons to be skeptical of it.)
He hacked the emails and wants to breed skepticism, so he and said this to get out ahead and look innocent. He was arrested two days before they announced that Russia did the hack. Therefore, perhaps they suspected him and he’s guilty. To add another layer, perhaps the Russian government was involved and told him to say the FBI was trying to pin it on him to help discredit the FBI investigation, accusation, and proof of Russian hacking. We know that Russia wanted him over a minor theft that occurred in 2009 as I wrote:Don’t forget, Russia wants this guy too, but The Guardian seems to posit that what Russia wants him on is so minor that perhaps Russia is using the charges in an attempt to keep him out of U.S. hands, noting that Russia filed their extradition request immediately after his arrest, and citing “diplomatic sources,” they claim that Russia offered to do a swap of Czech citizens wanted by Prague for financial crimes in exchange for Nikulin.
There is ZERO evidence of theory #1 and despite my skepticism that it was even Russia that hacked, I still feel obligated to point this option out. Here’s some problems with it:
a) The first thing that makes me skeptical is that he says they wanted him to say that then candidate Trump ORDERED the hack. As we know, the FBI is not investigating Trump for collusion (or at least wasn’t prior to the Comey firing) because there was no proof or evidence and hasn’t been since this investigation started nearly a year ago. The only thing the media has was what was (at worst) a stupid meeting taken by Donald Trump Jr which did not prove collusion to hack emails and ended up being a ruse to discuss the Magnitsky Act. Consider this in light of the fact that there is proof that the U.S. government was unmasking the calls of Trump associates and foreign allies were surveilling the Trump campaign. Refresher:
Therefore, if the FBI really thought Trump ordered this guy to do it, Trump would surely be under investigation for collusion. All of those Democrat House and Senate members asked if there is evidence of collusion by the media keep saying there is no evidence (minus perhaps the Don Jr. meeting that went nowhere). They wouldn’t be saying that if there was evidence to believe this guy had been ordered by Trump to hack the emails.
Now he could use the “Trump ordered” line to try to discredit the FBI investigation because he knows there are those who are skeptical of Russian hacking story and believe that the deep state is out for Trump, so the Trump component makes it look more like a set up on the FBI’s part. To go back to the theory – In other words, while he may be guilty of hacking the emails, the FBI tried to blame Trump for it.
b) The FBI obviously wasn’t confident or this would have been leaked to the MSM – either Washington Post, New York Times, or CNN (the deep state trio). If they suspected him and believe Trump ORDERED him, I think that he would be on the radar of the MSM, and the MSM has overall tried to DOWNPLAY or not report on this at all which is VERY telling.
c) The sealed affidavit against him discussed in The Guardian article reveals nothing about hacking emails, just about the hacks of Formspring, Dropbox, and LinkedIn. I would have thought if they had proof, that would be in the sealed affidavit. Although, one could argue they don’t have concrete proof but were either fishing to see if he did it or trying to get a confession.
d) Russia has a history of disliking their citizens being arrested – hating the policy of extraterritorial jurisdiction. Nikulin was caught in swarm of multiple Russians arrested and accused of various hacking offenses, and Russia does not think the U.S. should be arresting their citizens.
f) He’s willing to go back to Russia, but he’s not thrilled about it and would rather not. He prefers Russia to the U.S. and would rather go there if he is extradited, but he wants to go to Russia a free man. He claims the crime that The Guardian refers to as “minor” is a crime he is innocent of and that he never hacked anything – not what Russia or the U.S. is accusing him of hacking – saying he’s a used car salesman. His attorney is fighting the charges and believes he is being used as a “political pawn” between two countries. If he hacked the emails for the Russian government, why would he even protest Russia? He seems certain that he’ll be punished for the crime they are accusing him of if he is to go home.
2. He’s lying and capitalizing on a scandal going on here. That said, what motive would he have to do this?
First of all, there is indication this guy isn’t exactly forthwright. The FBI claims and lays out their proof that he did hack those sites, and Russia is also accusing him of hacking, although it was a relatively small amount of money some years ago. So if he is innocent of the hackings this is part of a set up, and his denials show his honesty. If he DID hack these sites and is guilty and is lying, his denials show him to be a dishonest person, and that could certainly carry over into these accusations. Anyway, let’s explore motives:
a) Perhaps he is trying to be able to stay in either the Czech Republic or next best case, appealing to Russia, by saying he is falsely being accused of a crime in the U.S. – appealing essentially to humanitarian reasons. He is willing to go to Russia over the U.S. However, despite being willing he is still fighting and saying Russia is accusing him a crime he didn’t commit.
b) Perhaps he wants attention. People will make up things to get that, but that one is unlikely to me because of the dire consequences.
The consequence of lying:
You’ve just accused the United States FBI/government of falsely trying to get to admit to a major crime you did not commit in exchange for a bribe, and there is a good chance you will be extradited there. That just doesn’t bode well for your future.
c) Perhaps the Russian government told him to say this to discredit the Russia investigation AND in exchange for them attempting to get him extradited there. However, he’s not thrilled about going to Russia either and is fighting the charge against him. His attorney, remember, says he’s a “political pawn.” If Russia threatened him to say to it to discredit the FBI investigation, Russia would be highlighting these false accusations, and they are not. Russia would be saying that their citizen is being falsely accused by the U.S. and demanding he not be sent there. Russia has stayed quiet, so that would defeat their purpose of generating publicity to discredit the investigation.
d) Remember, there were 10 people in the room, and no one has indicated that there was a deal offered. We have one anonymous law enforcement agent saying he wasn’t offered a deal, so that is some indication he could have been lying.
3. He’s telling the truth and he’s innocent:
The FBI offered him cash, an apartment, and citizenship so they could “prove” their collusion narrative. They would have a hacker to back up their story. Now would they have actually given him the cash, apartment, and citizenship? It’s hard to see that happening. It could have just been a ruse to get him to confess and toss him in jail. Perhaps, as the article stated, they aren’t sure if he did it but feel he might know who did, so they are going to try to get him to talk. (Remember we have other Russians tossing this out there as well that the FBI might be on a fishing expedition, however, they also could be exploiting the situation as well.) That could lead one to doubt this, but it’s possible the FBI was serious and essentially was offering him immunity. If so, why wouldn’t he take it? Because it’s the FBI trying to get him to admit to a crime he didn’t commit. If they will lie once, who is to say that they wouldn’t lie again and toss him in jail? If he tried to plead his case after the fact, no one would believe him.
~We know the FBI visited him aligned with the dates that he said.
~There is zero proof of collusion.
~The sealed affidavit was about the hacks in 2012-2013.
~Russia does want him back, but that doesn’t mean he hacked the emails or they are trying to use him as a pawn. He says he is innocent of the charges Russia is accusing him of as well – he is willing to go to Russia in light of the fact the charges are lighter and it’s his home country.
~If he hacked the emails on the orders of the Russian government or this was a narrative they cooked up to try to discredit the Russia investigation, he would not be fighting the charges from the Russian government and declaring himself innocent.
~If Russia cooked up this narrative to discredit the FBI investigation, they’d be loud and vocal highlighting that the FBI is falsely accusing their citizen and demanding him back. In order to discredit, it has to have attention. They are giving it none.
~His attorney seems generally baffled and thinks he is a “political pawn.”
~If he is guilty of these hacks in Russia & the U.S. or both, his denials would indicate a pattern of dishonesty.
~Russia does not like the U.S. arresting their people especially in these times, so that likely explains why they decided they wanted him instead.
~The FBI traveling all the way to Prague for a case like this is rare:
~He was tried in a tiny room & is in poor health:
Nikulin’s mother, who attended the hearing, declined to comment except to say she was worried that her son “looks like skin and bones” and that she believed the case was political.
~Levashov and Lisov also seem to indicate the FBI is on a fishing expedition for Russian hackers…if not more.
~That said, there were 10 people in the room, and none of them have indicated such a deal was offered.
The answer is that no one knows. The story seems so baffling, but this story could prove the Russia narrative is nonsense, and it could exonerate Trump if true, so I had to highlight it.