FBI worried that Canadian alleged 'hacker-for-hire' could flee

In court documents to support an arrest warrant for Karim Baratov, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials paint a picture of the 22-year-old as a flight risk with hundreds of thousands of dollars at his disposal.

Documents filed to support arresting Karim Baratov painted him as a 'hacker-for-hire' and flight risk

Acting assistant attorney general Mary McCord announced Wednesday the indictment of four men, including Canadian Karim Barakov, in connection with a massive data breach. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Law enforcement officials in the U.S. and Canada described Karim Baratov in court documents as a "hacker-for-hire," a flight risk and a "danger to the community" with more than $210,000 in "just one of his multiple" online accounts.

The documents were filed with the court by U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials seeking Baratov's arrest and were obtained by CBC Hamilton after Baratov appeared in court by video link on Friday. 

The flight risk question, whether Baratov would remain in Canada to face possible extradition, will be coming to the forefront next month as a bail hearing is held in his case.

The documents show that the Toronto police fugitive squad was enlisted to help U.S. officials obtain what's called a "provisional arrest" on charges being brought by the United States under Canada's extradition agreement.

The documents include details from the FBI to support why it contends that Baratov should be extradited to stand trial on the charges he faces there.

U.S. law enforcement officials found social media accounts belonging to Karim Baratov depicting his flashy lifestyle and expensive cars, and said they confirmed with Ontario that an Aston Martin and a Mercedes are registered to his name. (Facebook)

A lawyer for Baratov said the plan was to "strongly defend" against the FBI allegations.

"The social media and U.S.A. have made great efforts to distort the truth of who Karim Baratov is," said defence lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo outside court on Friday. "And as has already been stated, we consider [Baratov] to be a political scapegoat."

'Hacker-for-hire activities continue'

The U.S. officials allege that in 2014, a Russian intelligence officer named Dmitry Dokuchaev got in touch with Baratov, asking him to obtain log-in information for 80 email accounts.

According to the American request for the provisional warrant, "Baratov is a danger to the community because he has a demonstrated history of hacking into numerous victims' email accounts and his hacker-for-hire activities continue to the present time."

The American request also alleges that Baratov has engaged in other hacking activity and identity theft that are not connected to these charges.

The FBI included a photocopy of a photograph of Baratov, taken from his social media accounts, in an application to support a Canadian provisional arrest warrant. (FBI)

Investigators said they worried about him fleeing because much of his "hacking infrastructure" could be accessed from any computer in the world and he could "quickly destroy evidence while on the run."

"Given the vast scope of his hacking, Baratov has access to the contents of an enormous number of email accounts, not just his own," the officials allege.

'Ties to foreign government officials'

"Baratov also has ties to foreign government officials who … have demonstrated their willingness to offer sanctuary to at least one of Baratov's co-conspirators after he fled a Western nation where he was a subject of extradition proceedings," the FBI states.

The U.S. officials said they took note of Baratov's extravagant lifestyle through the depictions in his voluminous and showy social media accounts. They said they confirmed that Ontario transportation records showed Baratov owned a 2009 Aston Martin and a 2013 Mercedes and had previously owned a Lamborghini.

The warrant for Baratov in the U.S. was issued Feb. 28, and a Canadian application for the provisional arrest was signed March 10. Baratov was arrested a few days later on Tuesday.

In court on Friday, his lawyers said they will fight the extradition and want to get him out on bail when he appears next on April 5.