Z-Library Admins “Escape House Arrest” After Judge Approves U.S. Extradition

zlibraryOn November 4, 2022, the United States Department of Justice and the FBI began seizing Z-Library’s domains as part of a major operation to shut down the infamous ‘shadow library’ platform.

A criminal investigation had identified two Russian nationals, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, as the alleged operators of the site. On October 21, 2022, at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Sanket J. Bulsara ordered their arrest. They were detained in Argentina on November 3, 2022.

After arriving at the Ambrosio Taravella International Airport, the unsuspecting couple cleared customs and hired a car from a popular rental company. The United States Embassy informed local authorities that the pair were subject to an Interpol Red Notice.

At what point the Russians’ phones were tapped is unclear but, under the authority of a Federal Court arrest warrant, Argentinian law enforcement began tracking the couple’s movements as they traveled south in their rented Toyota Corolla.

z-lib-routeUsing data submitted in support of a Chamber of Deputies (lower house of the Argentine Congress) inquiry and data made available elsewhere, we were able to recreate the route allegedly taken by Napolsky and Ermakova before their arrest.

Points of reference in the reports are widely spaced, so the exact route will likely differ from that shown (right). What is clear, however, is that following a visit to El Calafate, the pair were arrested by airport security police as they arrived in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz. They were later transferred to Córdoba.

Napolsky and Ermakova informed authorities they were on vacation in Argentina, enjoying the sights in a rented car. They’d done much the same in almost 100 countries previously, although without any serious issue.

In January 2023, Judge Miguel Hugo Vaca Narvaja authorized the Russians to be detained under house arrest. Approval from Córdoba prosecutor Maximiliano Hairabedian, who was responsible for the request to extradite Napolsky and Ermakova to the United States, was not obtained.

Pair Fight Extradition to the United States

With a federal indictment, alleging criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud, and money laundering offenses, waiting for them in the United States, the priority for Napolsky and Ermakova would soon be their fight against extradition.

According to a November 2022 statement made by the Russian embassy in Argentina, no official extradition request was received in the immediate wake of the pair’s arrest. The embassy noted that “Argentina does not allow automatic execution of extraterritorial decisions and requests from third states.” Yet even after the request arrived, the process was far from straightforward.

After retaining counsel, the pair denied all wrongdoing. With diplomats from the Russian embassy in attendance, counsel for Napolsky argued that the extradition request failed on the basics by not specifying which copyrighted works had allegedly been infringed, among other things.

That triggered a somewhat remarkable series of events.

Judge Requested Additional Detail From U.S. Authorities

Under pressure from the defense, Judge Sergio Pinto agreed to seek more information from U.S. authorities so that the defendants’ concerns about evidence could be addressed. However, the defense had other concerns too, including the impartiality of Judge Pinto, who had reportedly granted the United States a 30-day extension to correct defects in their extradition request.

According to local news publication La Voz, the extension led to the defense accusing Judge Pinto of bias towards the United States. The defense said that a judge’s job is to judge and here, by granting an extension to the requesting state after closing the trial, the defense had no opportunity to participate in the process and suffered a disadvantage.

Defendants’ counsel called for Judge Pinto’s recusal and the Judge defended his position. Having reviewed the case, Judge Abel Sánchez Torres sided with the Russians and Judge Pinto was removed.

New Judge Orders Extradition

After replacing Judge Pinto, Judge Sánchez Freytes presided over the second extradition hearing. Based on the charges – criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering – the Judge said that extradition to the United States was appropriate.

With Napolsky and Ermakova still under house arrest in Córdoba, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice sought political refugee status for the Russians. Success would mean the Russians could not be extradited to the United States. Meanwhile, another Russian was also seeking refugee status, this time to avoid extradition to Russia.

Oleg Andreevich Kulakov is considered an opponent of the Kremlin. According to a La Voz report, at the hearing previously attended by diplomats from the Russian embassy, Napolsky and Ermakova mentioned that Kulakov, wanted for fraud in Russia, is a neighbor of theirs. A decision on Kulakov’s extradition awaits a decision from the National Refugee Commission; Napolsky and Ermakova, on the other hand, appear to have decided that the time for waiting was over.

Z-Library Defendants Vanish Into Thin Air

la-voz-z-libPatronato del Liberado (Patronage of the Liberated) is responsible for assisting people who have previously been detained by the authorities with family and social reintegration. It’s also tasked with monitoring compliance of those on probation or subject to house arrest.

According to unnamed ‘judicial sources’ cited by La Voz, which receives full credit for a remarkable scoop, when the group conducted a regular visit in May, to verify that Napolsky and Ermakova were in compliance with the rules set by the state, there was no trace of them.

Patronato del Liberado raised the alarm and Judge Sánchez Freytes was immediately notified. Counsel for the defense during the extradition hearings said that he hadn’t been able to contact the Russians either.

The Judge ordered an international arrest warrant although there appeared to be at least some hope the pair hadn’t left the country. However, that was many weeks ago and with no obvious news suggesting their recapture, the pair could be anywhere by now.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Powered by WPeMatico

Author: oxy

Crypto Cabaret's resident attorney. Prior to being tried and convicted of multiple felonies, Oxy was a professional male model with a penchant for anonymous networks, small firearms and Burberry polos.

Share This Post On