Alleged Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov denied bail

Accused Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov was denied bail Tuesday and will remain in custody while he awaits an extradition hearing that could see him sent to the U.S. to stand trial on charges related to computer hacking.

22-year-old who is wanted by U.S. will be held behind bars until a decision is made on extradition

Lawyers speak after Karim Baratov denied bail

5 years ago
Accused Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov was denied bail Tuesday and will remain in custody while he awaits an extradition hearing that could see him sent to the U.S. to stand trial on charges related to computer hacking. 6:24

Accused Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov was denied bail Tuesday and will remain in custody until the end of the extradition process that could see him sent to the U.S. to stand trial on charges related to computer hacking.

Justice Alan Whitten made the decision in Hamilton court Tuesday afternoon. He said the 22-year-old had not met the onus to be granted bail.

"Sir, you will be detained," Whitten said to Baratov.

The Crown said Tuesday that prosecutors would be ready to start the extradition hearing as early as June 12, should all the necessary documents from the United States be received in May.

Baratov's defence team said they were disappointed with the result but would read the judge's decision and decide whether to appeal. 

An artist's sketch from Tuesday's bail hearing shows Karim Baratov, assistant Crown attorney Heather Graham, Baratov's parents Dinara Tokbergenova and Akhmet Tokbergenov, defence lawyers Deepak Paradkar and Amedeo DeCarlo and Justice Alan Whitten. (Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press)

Whitten found the borderless nature of the allegations against Baratov particularly compelling in calling him a flight risk.

"Baratov would appear to be a valuable operative for the (Russian) FSB," Whitten wrote in his nine-page decision. "These are interests which would value his services."

"Why would he stick around?" Whitten continued. "He can continue his wealth-generating activities anywhere in the world."

The judge said the contrast between the prospect of 20 years in jail and Baratov's "youthful, affluent existence" could provide some motivation to flee the country, he said. 

Akhmet Tokbergenov, left, and Dinara Tokbergenova, parents of alleged Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov, leave the court after their son was denied bail, with lawyer Deepak Paradkar. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

But after the proceedings, one of Baratov's lawyers, Deepak Paradkar, disputed that. 

"There's no evidence he had access to false documents, false passports," he said. "He's not a citizen of Kazakhstan. He's never been in the Soviet Union or Russia. He's a Canadian citizen."

Could the parents control their son?

The arguments about Baratov's bail prospects focused on whether his parents could understand and control their son's activities and whether they were capable of doing so.

To begin the bail hearing Tuesday, Baratov's lawyers said the alleged Yahoo hacker had nowhere to flee and would not abandon his family.

Karim Baratov is shown in a photo from his Instagram account. Baratov, a Canadian man of Kazakh origins, was denied bail Tuesday in a Hamilton courtroom. (Instagram/Canadian Press)

But assistant Crown attorney Heather Graham said that if the allegations are true, then his parents either didn't understand what he was up to or didn't want to know.

"If that's true, and he's that good at presenting to them only what he wants them to know and to see, then they're clearly not able to exert the control that this case requires," she said.

Whitten appeared to agree and was not convinced the parents were up to supervising their son and limiting his activities.

"The parents were obviously prepared to turn a blind eye to their son's activities on the internet and they all benefited in turn by his financial contribution to the household maintenance," Whitten wrote in his ruling.

Outside court, Paradkar said he respected the judge and his ruling, but took issue with that assertion.

"At the end of the day what was the evidence of that, in terms of enjoying the benefits [of Baratov's income]?" Paradkar said.

The hearing began last Wednesday with testimony from Baratov's parents, immigrants from Kazakhstan who said they'd cut off their house from the internet and lock up all electronics if it would mean freeing their son from custody. 

Russian ties

The prosecution suggested Baratov has ties to international spies and the resources to flee. One of his co-accused fled the U.S. and is now in Russia.

Those ties "exponentially elevate the flight risk in this case," Graham said. 

"There'd be no good reason to doubt that there'd be the same interest in protecting Mr. Baratov from prosecution," she said.

Baratov was among four men indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges related to computer hacking, economic espionage and other offences.

Karim Baratov's parents, Akhmet Tokbergenov and Dinara Tokbergenova, believe their son has been made a scapegoat. (Adam Carter/CBC)

According to U.S. officials, the four are alleged to have hacked into Yahoo's systems and stolen information from more than 500 million user accounts.

Paradkar suggested that Canadian justice officials had been pressured by American counterparts. 

"The case law says you shouldn't placate and give way to the Americans under political pressure," Paradkar said. "I'm not sure that had anything to do with [the judge's] ruling, but there was pressure by the U.S. — the FBI and so forth to placate them in terms of his detention."

FBI investigators described Baratov in court documents as a "hacker-for-hire," a flight risk and a "danger to the community," who has more than $210,000 in "just one of his multiple" online accounts.

The other three men were in Russia when Baratov was arrested in Ancaster, Ont., on March 14. Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

Baratov's lawyers say they plan to fight the extradition, which could take 18 months to three years to unfold. The U.S. must file its paperwork by mid-May, and then Baratov is expected back in court near the end of May for an update. The extradition hearing could begin in June, the Crown said.

See how the hearing unfolded in the tweets below. On mobile and can't see them? Click here.