US Judge says Nikulin ‘competent to stand trial’, wants to appoint Public Defender

Yevgeniy Nikulin, Russian citizen detained in the US and accused of cybercrimes, has been transferred to Maguire Correctional Facility in California and may be deprived of his attorney’s assistance, reported Russian news agency Izvestia.

Nikulin’s lawyer Arkady Bukh claimed that American federal judge suggested he would restrict Nikulin from seeking assistance from private attorney, instead he would be assigned a Public Defender. Currently, Nikulin’s lawyers insist that he cannot be tried due to his mental health problems.

Another hearing on Nikulin’s case is scheduled to take place on August 6. Although Nikulin has been evaluated by a psychiatrist, who stated that the man has «many mental problems,» it is expected that next Tuesday the date of the trial will be set. The judge ignores the psychiatrist’s statement, explaining that psychologists say Nikulin is «competent to stand trial.»

«The government has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant’s mental disorder does not render him incompetent and that any refusal to participate in his own defense is due to his own choice,» San Francisco-based judge William Alsup wrote in the order.

«The difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is huge,» said Bukh. «It is not in a field of psychologist’s responsibility to make such conclusions. It is obvious that due to his mental health problems Yevgeniy would not be able to fully protect himself at a trial. Moreover, we told the judge that at this conjuncture we were not able to even get ready to the trial properly, as our client behaves apathetically and does not want to cooperate.»

«Yet the judge intends to assign a public Defender to Nikulin and put his team of lawyers aside,» said Bukh.

«It is unfortunate that American justice makes it possible to take such actions.»

Nikulin, who pleaded not guilty, was arrested in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2016 and later extradited to the US. Russia’s Foreign Ministry then called the extradition «a conscious, politically motivated step by the Czech side aimed at undermining the constructive basis of bilateral cooperation.»

Nikulin previously claimed that the FBI tried to force him to take responsibility for the hacking of the DNC servers.

Natalia Veselnitskaya — official website