A 20-yr-old Cypriot in the United States who was wanted to commit hacking offenses is likely to be the first person in the world to be extradited, his attorney said on Monday.
The FBI accuses Joshua Epifaniou of extortion from US firms for thousands of dollars while still a teenager, who is broken into their IT systems and threatens to leak his data if they have not paid.
After a prolonged case where Epifaniou spent nearly two years in prison, a court of Nicosia ruled to extradite him late last week.
“He is the first Cypriot to be extradited to the United States and is the first Cypriot to be extradited since Cyprus joined the EU after the constitution was changed in 2013,” Michael Chambers, the defense lawyer, told AFP.
The defense team tried to block the extradition, claiming that Epifaniou was between the ages of 15 and 17 and suffered asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder marked by major social contact and communication problems.
“We argued that, because of his age, his extradition of Asperger would be contrary to his human rights at that time, but the judge didn’t agree to that,” Chambers said.
The lawyer told the young Cypriot that 20 years ‘ imprisonment was taking place in two US states, Georgia and Arizona, if convicted of several counts of wire-fraud and computer fraud, identity robbery and extortion.
“When you are 16, you don’t know the series of your acts from a bedroom in Nicosia, there’s no comprehension of the implications,” Chambers said he spoke to his client about appealing the decision.
Originally arrested in May 2017, Epifaniou was accused of a denial of service or of the conduct of a so-called DDoS attack on a private Cypriot telecoms company.
He was later arrested by the police when the US demanded extradition in January 2018.
Chambers said the situation was close to Lauri Love, a British activist who was believed to be hacked into the FBI, the United States Central Bank and NASA networks by the United States.
UK Court judges ruled last year against an extradition as Love still suffers from Asperger’s.
“The Love situation in the United Kingdom is almost the same but the United Kingdom has not extradited him,” Chambers said.