Decision on bail for accused Yahoo hacker may come Tuesday

The bail hearing for accused hacker-for-hire Karim Baratov is expected to continue in Hamilton court Tuesday morning with closing arguments from his defence team and the government prosecutor on the case.

The hearing began last Wednesday with testimony from Baratov's parents, immigrants from Kazakhstan who said they'd cut off their house from the internet and lock up all electronics if it would mean freeing their 22-year-old son from custody. He awaits an extradition hearing on whether he'll be sent to the United States to stand trial.

Baratov was among four men indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges related to computer hacking, economic espionage and other offences.

'Even jail would look like paradise.' - Akhmet Tokbergenov on what would happen if his son broke bail conditions under his watch

According to the U.S., the four are alleged to have hacked into Yahoo's systems and stolen information from more than 500 million user accounts.

The other three men were in Russia when Baratov was arrested in Ancaster, Ont., on March 14. Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

Baratov's lawyers say they plan to fight the extradition, which could take 18 months to three years to unfold.

While courts are determining whether Baratov will be extradited, he's also entitled to apply to be out on bail rather than in custody while that process unfolds. That's what Tuesday's hearing is set to decide.

His father told the court last week that he would enforce whatever conditions were imposed so strictly that if Baratov broke them, "even jail would look like paradise."

While his parents plead for his release, Canadian courts are likely under pressure from their U.S. counterparts not to release Baratov. 

FBI investigators described Baratov in court documents as a "hacker-for-hire," a flight risk and a "danger to the community" with more than $210,000 in "just one of his multiple" online accounts.

One of the others charged in the Yahoo hack has already fled to Russia.

"Baratov also has ties to foreign government officials who … have demonstrated their willingness to offer sanctuary to at least one of Baratov's co-conspirators after he fled a Western nation where he was a subject of extradition proceedings," the FBI stated in court documents supporting their request for a provisional warrant.

Baratov's father, Akhmet Tokbergenov, and mother, Dinara Tokbergenova, believe their son to be a "scapegoat."

"It's like someone cut off our roots, and took out our hearts," said Tokbergenov, in an interview at his home last week.

The parents say they co-signed on the house in an Ancaster subdivision that Baratov lived in. They sold it at the end of March for $850,000, property records show.

Baratov's parents pledged the full value of their $800,000 home as a bond for their son to live with them while on bail.

Baratov himself testified last Wednesday that he started buying luxury cars in high school with money he made with his online business — building websites and protecting web servers, he said.

Crown prosecutor Heather Graham asked him how he characterized his income on his income tax forms.

"Online services," Baratov said.

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