I’m an average man’: Russian man faces extradition from Israel to the US on hacking charges

FILE PHOTO © Global Look Press / Thomas Frey / Free

A Russian IT specialist who faces extradition from Israel to the US tells RT of his ordeal, as his family urges Moscow to swap him for an Israeli woman detained in Russia on drug trafficking charges.

Alexey Burkov, an IT freelancer from St. Petersburg, was on holiday with his girlfriend in Israel in 2015 when his life was turned upside down. He claims that he was “hijacked” and brought into custody as he was departing Israel, which he says is “a standard US scheme.”

Since then, he has been held in several Israeli prisons, with no access to healthcare or regular visits from his lawyers. He has spent time in solitary confinement, and has sometimes been deprived of “food and water,” he says.

Israeli interrogators told Burkov that the US issued an Interpol warrant for him and are seeking extradition for his alleged involvement in cyber attacks and computer network fraud. Burkov has nothing to do with these crimes, he told RT Russian.

I’m an average man. I was dealing with cyber security and programming, I worked with databases. I did have acquaintances among people complicit in hacking, but I myself didn’t commit those crimes – the Americans simply decided to blame all this on me.

Russian diplomats who are trying to help him say his situation is growing graver. Israel is yet to form a coalition government, which jeopardizes Burkov’s fate.

Meanwhile, Burkov’s family have suggested that the Russian Foreign Ministry negotiate a prisoner swap between the two countries.

They have said that Burkov could be swapped for Naama Issachar, a 25-year-old Israeli-American who was detained at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport after she was found with nine grams of cannabis.

Israel seems reluctant to employ such an option, however, according to a friend of Burkov’s who lives in Israel.

Israeli government covers up the fact that there’s such an opportunity and that Russia is ready to do it. No one knows that they would bring her home if they wanted to.

“I asked [Issachar’s relatives] to talk to Israeli diplomats,” he told RT, “but as far as I understand, they assured the family there will be no swap – they just have to quietly wait for the ruling.”

Back in Israel, a massive campaign in support of Issachar is gaining pace, with thousands of people donating money to fund her lawyer while her family appeals to the Israeli government to facilitate her release.

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