The National Court has agreed to extradite to the United States a 23-year-old Briton accused of various computer attacks that included the hacking of numerous Twitter accounts, including those of the country’s president, Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama and the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates. According to the claim filed by the US, he also extorted money from actress Bella Thorne and committed various robberies over the Internet.

The Second Criminal Section considers that the necessary requirements are met to proceed with the surrender of Joseph James O’Connor, Plugwalk Joe, for 14 crimes that in Spain would correspond to discovery and disclosure of secrets, belonging to a criminal organization, extortion, access illegal access to computer systems, computer fraud and money laundering.

The Chamber rejects all the arguments put forward by the defense, including the disproportionality of the sentences to which he could be sentenced in the United States or that the jurisdiction for the prosecution would fall to the Spanish courts since the computer servers used are in Spain.

The magistrates argue that in Spain there is no case against him and that the United States is in a better position for prosecution, since the evidence obtained in the investigation is there and because it is the place where the damages have been caused. Regarding the possible penalties, they point out that it is not up to them to criticize the penalty imposed by the country that is claiming it.

Plugwalk Joe was arrested in July 2021 in Estepona (Málaga) for attacks on 130 Twitter accounts, as well as Bella Thorne’s Snapchat account. He is also linked to several incidents of swatting, that is, false calls to generate an emergency response from law enforcement under false pretenses. In these communications, the defendant allegedly notified the Police of various false threats that mobilized the agents, including blowing up an airport or the communication that an armed and dangerous individual wanted to kill his wife and children.

In addition to the above facts, the American authorities requested an extension of the extradition with new charges that included various computer intrusions with the aim of stealing money and cryptocurrencies, which were later laundered through transfers and transactions.

The detainee’s claim originates from investigations by courts in California and New York. The decision of the Second Chamber can still be appealed before the Plenary of the Hearing.

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