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Spain arrests accused Russian spammer at US request

Apr 10, 20172 mins
CybercrimeElection HackingLegal

News reports say he was tied to Russian interference in the last US election, but a source denies the connection

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A Russian man long connected with sending spam emails has been arrested and is being held in Spain, with a law enforcement source contracting news reports saying he was involved with a computer virus linked to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent election victory.

The arrest of Piotr Levashov at the Barcelona airport on Friday was not tied to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, said the source, who is close to the investigation. That contradicts news reports from Agence France-Presse and other news outlets, which said Levashov’s wife, Maria Levachova, was told his arrest was connected to Trump’s election.

Levachova, speaking to Russia Today, said Spanish police told her that “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband is linked to the victory of Trump” in November’s election. Levashov remained in custody in Spain Monday, with the U.S. seeking to extradite him, AFP reported.

The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on its case against Levashov, noting that the investigation is under seal.

Under a different spelling of the first name Pyotr, the suspect appears to be someone long accused of sending spam emails, reports Krebs on Security. Levashov was also known as Severa in several Russian-language cybercrime forums, Krebs reported.

This article has been updated to rewrite the lead paragraph and replace the last paragraph with one about Levashov’s spam connections.