After a federal prosecutor told a judge Tuesday that he expects to produce 4 terabytes, or 4 trillion bytes, of data as they make their case against a Russian man charged with hacking into U.S. businesses, the judge said Roman Seleznev will need better access to his lawyers than speaking to them through a glass wall.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue said he doesn't like to micro-manage the Bureau of Prisons, but Seleznev has a constitutional right to an effective defense. Donohue ordered the two sides to come up with a plan that allows the lawyers to do their job while respecting the prison's security concerns.
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Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker, was arrested in the Maldives in July. He was moved to Guam and then Seattle on charges that he hacked into businesses across the U.S. and installed software that allowed him to steal credit card numbers. He has pleaded not guilty.
Andrey Yushmanov, consul general of the Russian Federation in Seattle, attended Tuesday's hearing and said Seleznev's father continues to have concerns about the circumstances surrounding his son's arrest. Yushmanov also said they want to be sure Seleznev is safe in prison.
Seleznev's lawyers had complained that officials at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center would not let them meet with their client face-to-face, impeding their ability to provide a defense. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Wilkinson said the prison had elevated security concerns when Seleznev first arrived, but those concerns increased after two missteps involving his lawyers and cellphones.
In one instance, one of his previous lawyers was seen holding a phone up to Seleznev while he was in a courthouse holding cell. Another time his lawyer carried a phone into the prison by mistake.
Wilkinson said Seleznev has been moved to the general population but for security reasons, when he meets his lawyers, they are kept in separate rooms and talk through a glass wall. They can pass documents by handing them to a guard in an envelope, he said.
But Donohue said this case will require Seleznev to review computer data with his lawyers so the current system won't work.
"I can't fathom how you could have effective communication with a client by flashing a computer screen or passing discs back and forth," Donohue said.
He gave the two sides until next Friday to come up with a solution or he will order one. Seleznev lawyer David Smith said he was sure they could find a remedy that satisfies everyone.
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