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Spain court backs Briton's extradition over Biden hack

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A Spanish court approved Friday the extradition to the United States of a British man suspected of hacking the Twitter accounts of leading public figures including presidents Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

Police arrested Joseph James O'Connor in July 2021 in the southern city of Estepona which is home to a large number of Britons.

He faces multiple charges in connection with the July 2020 hack of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those of then-Democratic presidential candidate Biden.

The accounts of former President Barack Obama, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla boss Elon Musk, who now owns Twitter, were also hit.

US officials allege O'Connor hijacked the celebrity accounts and then asked followers of them to send bitcoin to an , promising to double their money.

Spain's National Court said on Friday that he is also suspected of hacking the Snapchat account of a unnamed public figure and then threatening to publish naked pictures of him unless he was financially compensated.

It said the "necessary conditions" were met for Spain to agree to a US extradition request for the 23-year-old, who is also known by the alias "Plugwalk Joe".

Spain's cabinet still must approve it although usually complies with the court's decisions.

O'Connor can also still appeal the extradition. He faces related to unauthorized computer access, extortion and cyberstalking.

His defense team had argued that he should be tried in Spain, the location of the computer servers which were allegedly used in the hacking.

A Florida teenager accused of masterminding the attack was sentenced by a US court in 2021 to three years in juvenile prison in a .

Graham Ivan Clark was just 17 when he was charged and his case was transferred to a Florida state court because of his juvenile status.

© 2023 AFP

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