Biden Opposes Conditional Handover of Cyber-criminals

The possibility of a deal allowing for the conditional handover of cyber-criminals between the United States and Russia has been extinguished by American president Joseph Biden. 

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on June 13 that he would be willing to make an arrangement with the United States whereby the two countries would exchange cyber-criminals in accordance with agreed-upon  conditions. 

Putin, who is due to meet with Biden at a bilateral summit in Geneva on June 16, voiced the comments during an interview broadcast on state television.

Putin said he thought issues such as the environment, strategic stability, and Libya and Syria were of great importance to both Russia and America, and that he believed a bilateral dialogue would be established at Wednesday’s meeting.

Biden is expected to raise at the summit the issue of recent ransomware attacks on businesses based in the United States, including meat supplier JBS and the Colonial Pipeline, that the US says stemmed from Russia. 

US officials have alleged that the Russian government, though not directly responsible for carrying out such attacks, habitually turns a blind eye to cyber-criminals operating inside Russia who attack foreign targets.

Asked if Russia would enter into an agreement to locate and prosecute cyber-criminals, Putin said Russia’s actions were dependent on Washington and Moscow’s reaching a formal and mutual deal.

“If we agree to extradite criminals, then of course Russia will do that,” said Putin. “We will do that, but only if the other side, in this case the United States, agrees to the same and will extradite the criminals in question to the Russian Federation.”

He added: “The question of cybersecurity is one of the most important at the moment because turning all kinds of systems off can lead to really difficult consequences.”

When asked about Putin’s proposal Biden said: “I’m open to it if there’s crimes committed against Russia that, in fact, are . . . [where] the people committing those crimes are being harbored in the US. I’m committed to holding them accountable.”

United States national security advisor Jake Sullivan later stated that Biden would pledge only to hold accountable American hackers who undertake illegal cyber-attacks internationally.

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