Police in Barcelona have arrested a Russian computer programmer who is suspected of involvement in Moscow’s hacking of the US presidential election.
A US arrest warrant accused Pyotr Levashov, arrested in Barcelona on Sunday while on vacation, of participating in a Russian cyber-espionage campaign to aid Donald Trump’s campaign, according to El Confidencial (link in Spanish), a Spanish-language newspaper that cited “judicial sources.”
Levashov’s wife, Maria Levashova, told Russia’s state-controlled broadcaster RT (link in Russian) that her husband’s arrest was related to a computer virus that was “allegedly created by my husband” and “associated with the Trump victory in the election.” His arrest was confirmed by the Russian embassy.
Both houses of Congress and the FBI are investigating Russia’s attempts to influence the US election, possibly in coordination with the Trump campaign. One US official told Quartz the case is not tied to allegations of Russian interference with the U.S. election.
US Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr told Quartz the case was under seal and declined to provide any additional information.
Levashov is known online as “Severa,” the moderator of the how-to section on spam on several cyber-crime websites, according to KrebsonSecurity, a well-respected blog on internet security. The “spam king” is “responsible for running multiple criminal operations that paid virus writers and spammers to install ‘fake antivirus’ software,” Krebs reported.
Russian spy agencies have frequently used criminal hackers in their foreign intelligence operations, using intrusions to gain invaluable data and access to sensitive systems.