A Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails will forgo his extradition hearing and go face the charges in the United States in what his lawyer has called an effort to speed up the legal process.
Karim Baratov signed documents agreeing to waive the hearing before a Hamilton judge on Friday, after weighing the decision for months.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman warned Baratov that the move could leave him open to more charges in the U.S., prompting the 22-year-old's lawyer to confirm his client knew the implications of his choice.
"Good luck, Mr. Baratov," the judge said as the hearing came to a close.
An extradition hearing for Baratov had been scheduled for early September, though his lawyer, Amedeo DiCarlo, suggested in June that his client may opt out if talks with American officials proved fruitful.
He would not comment Friday on discussions with the U.S., saying he didn't want to compromise any negotiations.
But he said outside court that this latest development was welcomed by his client.
"He's happy, he's excited," DiCarlo said. "All along, we've said he wants to move this along, he's not trying to delay the system, he wants to assert his rights in the U.S."
DiCarlo has stressed that waiving the extradition hearing does not mean admitting guilt.
U.S. marshals will be dispatched to fetch Baratov and take him to California, DiCarlo said. That is to take place "as soon as possible," he said, possibly within the next few days.
Baratov was arrested in Hamilton in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others — two of them allegedly officers of Russia's Federal Security Service — for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.
He has been held without bail since his arrest because an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that he was too much of a flight risk to be released prior to an extradition hearing.
The judge also found that Baratov's parents would not make appropriate sureties since they had not been suspicious of their son's alleged activities while he lived under their roof.
American authorities alleged in court documents that Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan, posed an "extremely high flight risk" in part due to his alleged ties to Russian intelligence agents and his financial resources.
Baratov appealed the ruling that denied him bail but it was upheld in June.
Yahoo said last September that information from at least 500 million user accounts had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier. Baratov is accused of hacking 80 Yahoo accounts and faces 20 years in prison in the U.S. if convicted.