British man accused of Twitter hack is jailed in Spain to await US extradition hearing

The 22-year-old compromised the accounts of several US politicians, including Joe Biden

A British man held in Spain in connection with a Twitter hack last year that compromised the accounts of several US politicians, including Joe Biden, has been jailed pending an extradition hearing, a court source said.

Joseph O'Connor, 22, appeared at Spain's High Court via video link from the southern town of Estepona, where he was detained on Wednesday.

Mr O'Connor's lawyer, Inmaculada Garcia Lopez, said her client, who faces several charges in the US, told the court he opposed extradition and was innocent of all charges.

"When the police arrested him, he said: 'I'm innocent, show me the evidence, because I have no involvement,'" his mother Sandra O'Connor, an Estepona resident, told Reuters.

The family will fight against the extradition, he said.

It comes more than a month after the death of software mogul John McAfee in a Spanish prison, in what authorities believe was a suicide, while awaiting extradition to the US.

The July 2020 Twitter attack hijacked a variety of verified accounts, including those of Mr Biden, Democratic presidential candidate at the time, and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.

The accounts of notable figures such as former US president Barack Obama, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and rapper Kayne West were also affected.

The hacker used the accounts to solicit digital currency, prompting Twitter to prevent some verified accounts from publishing messages for several hours until security could be restored.

The High Court judge jailed Mr O'Connor as a precautionary measure after taking into account the flight risk and the seriousness of the case laid out by the US Justice Department.

The court is expected to set an extradition hearing in the next few months.

Ms O'Connor said her son asked to be released on bail for health reasons, but the request was denied.

"Joseph is only 22. He's never been arrested, he has never been in trouble and has very serious health problems – a back injury," she said.

Updated: July 22nd 2021, 8:20 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS