Two Russian citizens are facing charges of criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering in the United States of America. The charges relate to a pirated e-book website “Z-Library” which was taken down by US authorities in early November.
The two suspects, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, both of St. Petersburg, Russia, were arrested in the city of Cordoba in Argentina, at the request of the US government. Whilst the suspects are still being held in Argentina, a spokesperson for the US Attorney Office for the Eastern District of New York’s declined to comment on whether the suspects were being extradited back to the US. The suspects were charged under seal in late October. Under seal is a procedure whereby sensitive and/ or confidential information is filed at a court without the information being a matter of public record.
Users had access to over 11 million e-books on the Z-Library site, in addition to scientific research articles, many of which are taxpayer funded. Many argue the site served an important public good by offering the content as many users wouldn’t have access to such material without it. Although the site has been taken down, there have been reports the site is still available through the Dark Web.
The suspects face up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 (approximately £209,615) per offence for criminal copyright infringement alone, never mind the additional charges. The Department of Justice has made it clear the charges are allegations and the suspects are deemed innocent until proven guilty.
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