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Kickass founder disappears halting US extradition attempts

By | Published on Friday 9 October 2020


The founder of KickassTorrents has seemingly left Poland where extradition proceedings were still going through the motions at the request of the US, which wants to charge him with criminal copyright infringement. It’s not clear what that means for the wider case, although the extradition proceedings have been halted.

Ukrainian Artem Vaulin was arrested in Poland in July 2016 at the request of the US authorities, shortly before the then uber-popular Kickass file-sharing website was forced offline. Efforts to extradite Vaulin initially seemed to be progressing relatively speedily, with a Polish court approving the extradition in March 2017.

But then a lengthy appeals process began. And earlier this year, prosecutors told the American court waiting to hear the copyright case against Vaulin that that process was still underway, with no real indication of when a final decision might be made.

Vaulin was initially jailed after his arrest in 2016, but the following year he secured bail. Since then he’s been living in Warsaw while his legal reps sought to block his extradition.

But in a new update to the court back in the US, prosecutors have now stated that: “According to information recently received from the Polish Ministry Of Justice, defendant Artem Vaulin has left Poland in violation of his release conditions, and his current whereabouts are unknown”.

As a result of Vaulin’s departure, the $108,000 in bail money he paid has been forfeited by the courts in Warsaw. Meanwhile, US prosecutors confirm, “extradition proceedings in Poland are no longer continuing”.

Having spotted the update, Torrentfreak reached out to one of the lawyers representing Vaulin in the US. Val Gurvits of Boston Law Group said he’d found out that Vaulin had left Poland via US prosecutors, that he had not been in contact with his client, and that as a result of recent developments his firm was now withdrawing from the case.