French news wires report that Morocco’s Court of Cassation has issued an opinion favorable to extraditing French national Sebastien Raoult to the U.S. to face criminal charges related to alleged involvement in ShinyHunters. But the court’s opinion is not an extradition order and they do not have the final say on extradition.
Raoult has been detained in a Moroccan jail since May 31 on a “red notice” at the request of a Washington State prosecutor. Raoult, known as “Sezyo” on Twitter, is reportedly accused of seven charges including electronic fraud and identity theft, as well as various conspiracy charges. DataBreaches has been unable to get a hard copy of the charges against him but a June 2021 indictment of the ShinyHunters group reportedly lists dozens of victims and millions of dollars in losses due to the group’s alleged crimes.
Reporting by LeMonde is more specific about Raoult’s alleged role (machine translation):
According to the American magistrates, this former computer science student in the French eastern city of Nancy used his own GitHub account to develop and test phishing emails linked to the sites used by the ShinyHunters. In March 2022, using the information provided by GitHub, FBI investigators noticed that the same IP address (Internet Protocol, a device’s unique address on the internet) had been used to access two malicious sites and “Sezyo’s” personal account on GitHub.
Five others in France were also reportedly arrested the same day that Raoult was detained although their arrests have not been formally announced by French authorities. DataBreaches has previously reported that Nassim Benhaddou and Gabriel Kimiaie-Asadi Bildstein told DataBreaches that they had each been arrested and released. LeMonde has named a third French national who was also arrested, Abdel-Hakim E.
Since Raoult’s detention in Morocco, his lawyer, Philippe Ohayon, has been trying to get France to request Raoult’s extradition to France so he can be tried there on any charges instead of Morocco extraditing him to the U.S., where he would face much harsher possible sentencing.
So far, however, France has not made any extradition request of Morocco. After initially saying that there was nothing they could do, they are reportedly reviewing more documents. But according to Ohayon, the U.S. and France may be cooperating in ways that do not protect and are not fair to his client. France’s failure to seek Raoult’s extradition to France becomes an even more pressing issue now that Morocco’s Court of Cassation seems to have cleared one obstacle to extraditing Raoult to the U.S. As France24 reported, however, the court is not the final arbiter of whether extradition will be ordered:
The extradition itself can only be decided by the prime minister after a proposal by a committee also including the justice and foreign ministers, the source said.
The Court of Cassation’s opinion, seen by DataBreaches, considered, in part, that Raoult was not a minor at the time crimes allegedly occurred, and that U.S. filings argue that the crimes were committed on American soil. A machine translation of that part of the opinion reads:
That these cybercrimes for which he is being prosecuted were committed by a Frenchman on American territory via the unauthorized connection to the computers of companies domiciled on American territory and the hacking of databases stored by them. And article 718 of the Code of Penal Procedure which it maintains and which authorizes extradition when the crime was committed on the territory of the applicant state by a foreign national.
Because French law prohibits France from extraditing French nationals to the U.S., the U.S.’s only chance to get a French national to stand trial here would be to wait until they weren’t on French soil and then try to get them extradited there. And that seems to be exactly what the U.S. did by having Morocco detain Raoult while they seek his extradition.
In a conversation with Ohayon today, Ohayon suggested that France was cooperating with the U.S. to the detriment of Raoult. If the other five nationals were being prosecuted in France, he explained, it would be a compelling argument to have France seek Raoult’s extradition to stand trial in France just like the others. But the other five French nationals arrested in France are currently not being prosecuted in France. Although they were all arrested, there has been no case filed against any of them according to Ohayon.
So is France delaying or not filing any cases in France so that the U.S. stands a better chance of getting Morocco to extradite Raoult to the U.S.? Ohayon seems to think that may be what is going on.
And is the U.S. Department of Justice trying to put on a show by claiming that they caught an “important” member of ShinyHunters because he’s the only they can possibly get to stand trial here as long as the others remain in France or the U.S. doesn’t even know who they are or where they are?
Is France betraying one of their own to play nice with the U.S.? Raoult’s lawyer and his father seem to think they are.
Multiple attempts to get information from DOJ failed and inquiries to the French Ministry of Justice did not get a reply. DataBreaches continues to try to obtain some of the filings that DOJ has refused to provide to this site so far and has reached out to Raoult’s father to get comment from him. This story will be updated as events change or more Information becomes available.