Lawyer for hacking suspect say no disqualification

By Martha Bellisle, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 25, 2014 at 3:41 p.m.



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SEATTLE (AP) — Lawyers for a Russian man charged with hacking into business across the U.S. filed new motions in federal court insisting that they don't have a conflict of interest and should remain on the job.

They also told a federal judge that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has not allowed them to meet with Roman Seleznev face to face.

Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker, was indicted in 2011 and arrested in the Maldives in July on charges that he hacked into U.S. businesses and installed software that allowed him to steal more than 200,000 credit card numbers from retail business in Western Washington and hundreds from companies across the U.S. He has pleaded not guilty.

Seleznev also faces racketeering charges in Nevada. The Nevada indictment resulted from a federal Homeland Security investigation called "Operation Open Market." Seleznev and 54 others are charged with being part of a Russian cybercrime organization called "Carder.su" that allegedly trafficked stolen credit-card information and counterfeit identifications.

Prosecutors say members of the group operated an Internet site called a forum where they could buy stolen data. As part of the group, Seleznev allegedly ran a website "that allows members to search for the particular type of credit card information they want to buy, add the number of accounts they wish to purchase to their 'shopping cart' and then check out," the indictment said. Payments for the data were automatically deducted from a pre-established account, the indictment said. Seleznev allegedly sold each stolen account number for $20.

Prosecutors say the group victimized more than 1 million people and businesses.

Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. Attorney's office, said Seleznev has not yet appeared in Nevada because he remains in custody in Washington. "About 23 other defendants in that case are fugitives, several are pending trial and the rest have pleaded guilty," she said Thursday.

In a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Seleznev's lawyers said the prison moved him from a Special Housing Unit to the general population, as they had requested. But when he meets with his lawyers, they still must meet in that unit, where they can only talk through "a defective microphone and speak system which intermittently cuts out, making communication virtually impossible," his lawyers said. They asked for a hearing on the problem.

In another motion, the lawyers detailed the process that led to his hiring of the law firm Fox Rothschild. Lawyer David Smith said Fox was retained after Seleznev was moved from the Maldives to Guam in what they argued was an "unlawful rendition."

About a month later, the government told a Fox lawyer that Z-Pizza, a former Fox client, was one of the alleged victims. Smith argued that Fox should not be disqualified because the two clients and their cases were not "substantially related." They also said Fox implemented "screening mechanisms" among lawyers to ensure no conflicts.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday on whether Fox should remain Seleznev's counsel.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Martha Bellisle

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