The son of a prominent Russian politician has been convicted of 38 charges related to stolen credit card information, including 10 counts of wire fraud and nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, the US Justice Department announced on Thursday.
According to prosecutors, Roman Seleznev was “one of the most prolific credit card traffickers in history”, using malware-infected computers to steal payment information from American businesses for more than a decade before he was arrested while on holiday in the Maldives in 2014.
The arrest of Seleznev — the son of ultranationalist parliament member Valery Seleznev — sparked an international dispute between US authorities and Russian officials, who characterised the extradition as a “kidnapping”. From the Seattle Times:
The elder Seleznev insisted in an interview that his son was innocent and had only average computer skills after he was disabled in an April 2011 terrorist bombing in Morocco. He also said his son’s arrest may have been retaliation for Russia’s harboring of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Last year, federal prosecutors accused Seleznev and his father of plotting to tamper with witnesses and possibly discussing an escape from the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. The assertions were based on recorded conversations, according to the government.
During the trial at a Seattle court, authorities claimed that 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers were recovered from Seleznev’s laptop, but Seleznev’s defence attorneys criticised the prosecution for lacking physical evidence.
Seleznev now faces up to 34 years in prison. His lawyers say they plan to appeal the verdict.
“One of the main issues on appeal is the manner in which he was kidnapped,” defence attorney John Henry Browne told the Seattle Times, “which was against international law and against our law and was offensive to me”.