Judge asks prosecutors if they have any real evidence against alleged LinkedIn hacker Yvgeniy Nikulin
Russian national Yevgeniy Nikulin has been in custody for four years now on charges he hacked LinkedIn, Dropbox, and the now-defunct FormSpring in 2012. His trial was scheduled to begin in a federal court in California in March, but then the coronavirus pandemic delayed it. The trial finally got going, but how solid is the prosecution’s case? The federal judge hearing the case does not appear to be happy with the prosecution’s attempt to connect the 32-year old Nikulin to various online personas including a Ukrainian national accused of hacking the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Law360’s Hannah Albarazi reports that District Judge William Alsup described the government’s efforts as “mumbo jumbo” and with the jury present, wondered aloud whether prosecutors were wasting the jury’s time. It was the second day that the judge had expressed annoyance or skepticism with the prosecutor’s case or attempts to tie Nikulin to other alleged high profile threat actors, including Ukrainian citizen Oleksandr Ieremenko. The latest criticisms came after the prosecution presented a photo found on Ieremenko’s commputer that the FBI agent testified they believe to be a picture of Nikulin. They also presented evidence that in October, 2012, “dex.007” sent a message from a particular IP address. The prosecution believes that “dex.007” is Nikulin because the message referred to the sender’s 25th birthday and Nikulin was turning 25 the next day. The FBI believes that the recipient of that message was Ieremenko.
But trying to show that Nikulin might be tied to other alleged criminals — even if they made a connection — still doesn’t prove he did the LinkedIn or Dropbox hacks, and where’s the evidence for that? Nikulin’s attorneys have tried to introduce their theory about an alternate suspect, Evgeniy Bogachev, and claim that the prosecution has not taken their alternative suspect theory seriously enough.
Will Nikulin eventually be acquitted because of reasonable doubt? That would be something, wouldn’t it?
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