A young hacker who became the first ever Cypriot citizen to be extradited to the US, where he was accused of cyber-crimes, could see his prison time drastically reduced after his lawyer reached a deal with the FBI on Monday.
Joshua Epiphaniou, 21, was extradited to the US on July 16, where he faced charges in both Arizona and Georgia for felonies committed from his bedroom in Nicosia when he was still a minor. The maximum sentence for the charges he faces is 20 years.
He was arraigned on July 20 before US Magistrate Judge Alan J Baverman in the Northern District of Georgia.
Epiphaniou’s lawyers in Cyprus tried without success to block his extradition based on the fact that he was a minor at the time and suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction and communication.
Prior to his extradition, Epiphaniou had been held in custody for three years without a trial and without a conviction for any offence.
The young hacker’s lawyer in Cyprus Michael Chambers said the deal reached by US lawyer Stephen P Johnson saw the FBI agreeing that restitution has been paid with time served by the young hacker.
A new court date for the deal to be presented in front of the judge will be announced in the coming days but Chambers said the chances of Epiphaniou’s sentence being reduced are very high.
“Should the court take into account the time already served in prison by Joshua both in Cyprus and in the US, he should be granted a reduced sentence,” Chambers told Cyprus Mail.
However, Chambers added that even if Epiphaniou sees his sentence reduced in the next days it will be unlikely that he will be allowed back to Cyprus straightaway.
“However, instead of facing years of prison, he will only have to serve a few months, it would be terrific news for him and for us,” he said.