In July, Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, who’s been held in a local prison ever since.
The 30-year-old Ukrainian was arrested on behalf of U.S. authorities who want him extradited. According to a grand jury indictment, Artem is one of the brains behind the popular torrent search engine.
Artem’s defense team refutes these claims and has asked the U.S. federal court to dismiss the case in its entirety. At the same time, they have been trying to get their client released from prison on bail.
The case has now been heard before the Court of Appeals in Warsaw, Poland, but with a disappointing result for the KickassTorrents defendant. The court ruled that Artem should remain in custody during the extradition proceedings.
The defense argued that Artem should be released on bail while awaiting extradition hearing. Among other things, they questioned how the crimes alleged by the U.S. applied under Polish law.
In addition, they stressed that their client is in need of good medical care, possibly surgery, for a spinal hernia he’s suffering from. His release could have been under police supervision and Artem was willing to hand over his passport and remain in Warsaw, if needed.
The Court of Appeals reviewed the arguments and concluded that the alleged KickassTorrents owner will remain in prison, citing a fear of complications during the extradition proceedings.
According to Judge Marzanna Piekarska-Drążek, there are still valid reasons to extend the detention. She noted that the evidence provided by the U.S. authorities is “sufficient” to warrant this decision.
The health issues cited by the defense were not seen as severe, with the court noting that Artem could get the help he needs while in custody.
Artem’s Polish counsel, Tatiana Pacewicz, is disappointed by the outcome. She believes that her client’s rights are being violated and notes that the case has been referred to the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
TorrentFreak also reached out to Val Gurvits, who is part of the U.S. defense team. He told us that they are still not allowed to meet with Artem to prepare his defense. Meanwhile, the Polish authorities appear to have shared evidence with the U.S. without due process.
“We continue to be frustrated by our inability to have an attorney-client meeting with Artem in Warsaw,” Gurvits says.
“In addition, it seems that the Polish authorities prematurely handed over to the US authorities Artem’s personal effects including his laptop. This is troubling since Artem was denied his right to oppose this,” he adds.
The extradition hearing is currently scheduled for later this month, so more news is expected to follow soon.