Katko, Jordan, McCaul, Turner Question Admin’s Decision to Release Russian Cybercriminal
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan questioning why Aleksei Burkov, a notorious Russian cybercriminal, was released early from custody, allowing him to return to Russia.
“The decision to prematurely release Burkov is curious given the lengths to which the U.S. government went to secure Burkov’s arrest,” the lawmakers wrote. “U.S. authorities pursued Burkov for years on hacking-related charges, including identity theft, wire fraud, computer intrusion, and money laundering. One of the two illegal websites he ran, named ‘Cardplanet,’ sold credit and debit card information, many of which belonged to U.S. citizens and resulted in over $20 million in fraudulent purchases on U.S. cards. Burkov operated another website that served as an exclusive ‘invite-only club’ where some of the world’s most dangerous cybercriminals could advertise stolen goods and criminal services.”
“Although a Kremlin spokesperson applauded Burkov’s premature release, calling it ‘rather a positive development,’ current and former U.S. officials have been described as ‘befuddled’ and ‘surprised,’” the lawmakers continued. “The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, which commentators have cited as a reason why the Biden Administration’s actions are especially peculiar. The Russian government has a history of using cybercriminals as assets for Russian intelligence services. Some former officials have suggested that Burkov may now be working for Russia, against U.S. interests.”
Read the full letter here.