Hacker linked to Russian intelligence sentenced to five years in prison

Karim Baratov pleaded guilty in November for playing a role in the massive 2014 Yahoo data breach.

A 23-year-old man who pleaded guilty for his role in helping Russian spies hack into email accounts was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday.

Karim Baratov, a Kazakhstan-born Canadian citizen, was arrested in Toronto last year before being extradited to the United States. Prosecutors say he was part of a group working with two intelligence agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Baratov pleaded guilty in November for playing a role in the massive 2014 Yahoo data breach. That breach saw information tied to 500 million accounts stolen from the company. He was also charged with hacking into over 11,000 emails as part of an illegal hacking business he ran including helping Russian spies hack into 80 such accounts.

Sentencing came later than initially planned after Judge Vince Chhabria told prosecutors last month that their request of an eight-year sentence seemed “way out of whack compared to most hackers.” Baratov’s lawyers were asking for a 45-month sentence.  After further filings from the government aiming to justify their request, Chhabria decided on a five-year sentence for Baratov.

Karim Baratov (Department of Justice)

Among Baratov’s clients were Russian intelligence officers Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, who paid Baratov to target accounts of specific interest to the FSB. Dokuchaev paid Baratov to break into at least 80 accounts from people including journalists, lawyers and senior government officials in Russia and nearby countries. U.S. government officials and tech company employees were also targeted.

Baratov said he never realized he was working for the FSB.

Dokuchaev and his superior, Sergei Mikhailov, worked for FSB’s Center for Information Security. The two men were arrested in Russia in December 2016 on charges of treason. Dokuchaev is on the FBI’s most wanted list even as Russia accuses him of being a spy for the United States.

You can read the full original indictment against Baratov below.


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