Kazakhstan denies plans to hand over Russian cyber expert to Moscow


Astana (Reuters) – Kazakhstan has yet to decide whether to hand over a detained Russian cybersecurity expert to Moscow or Washington, the Central Asian nation said on Tuesday, denying Russian claims that the extradition had been agreed.

Kazakhstan detained Nikita Kislitsin, an employee of Russian cybersecurity firm F.A.C.C.T., when he was visiting the country on June 22 and Russia responded by quickly filing its own extradition request for him to compete with one from Washington.

The case could further strain relations between traditional allies Astana and Moscow which have become tense due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Kazakhstan’s refusal to support what Moscow calls its “special military operation” there.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Kommersant daily cited the Russian consulate in Kazakhstan as saying Astana has decided to hand over Kislitsin to Russia.

However, Duisembai Darkhan, a spokesman for the Kazakh Prosecutor General’s office, told Reuters no such decision has been made, and a local court has only ruled to place Kislitsin under arrest pending extradition.

He said prosecutors would decide on where to extradite Kislitsin after studying the case more closely.

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