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The detention of Nikita Kislitsin in Kazakhstan is giving Washington and Moscow something else to fight over.

A Russian network security specialist who is wanted by the US and Russia for cybercrimes has been detained in Kazakhstan, according to a report in The Register. Nikita Kislitsin, who is also a former editor of Hacker magazine, has been in detention since June 22 as the two countries both seek his extradition.

Kislitsin is currently an employee of FACCT, a Russian cybersecurity service provider that was spun off from Group-IB, which left Russia due to sanctions in 2019.

FACCT says that in the company, Kislitsin “is responsible for developing the network security business”. The company describes his situation as being “under temporary detention in Kazakhstan to study the basis for extradition arrest at the request of the United States”. 

Wanted for a cybercrime committed in 2012

Kislitsin’s employer further states that the claims against him “are not related to his work at FACCT, but are related to a case more than 10 years ago when Nikita worked as a journalist and independent researcher. We are convinced that there are no legal grounds for detention on the territory of Kazakhstan”.

Indeed, the company emphasized that Kazakh law enforcement “have no questions for FACCT”, and that the company continues to work as usual.

According to The Register, the US extradition request appears based on earlier charges against Kislitsin, who is accused of hacking social networking service Formspring in 2012. A 2014 indictment issued in Virginia says he stole usernames, email addresses, and passwords, and then tried to sell the stolen database for €5000 a copy.

Kislitsin is on two wanted lists

FACCT’s statement goes on to confirm that the company has hired lawyers and sent an appeal to the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Kazakhstan asking for assistance in protecting Kislitsin from being dragged off to the US.

Unfortunately, that request may have resulted in unexpected consequences. A subsequent update to the statement explains that on June 28, FACCT learned that Kislitsin was also “on the wanted list in the territory of the Russian Federation”.

The Register says that FACCT did not immediately respond to inquires, and the company’s statement only says that it is “monitoring developments”.