A member of the Russian hacker group Shaltai Boltai currently in Estonia said he intends to apply for political asylum in Estonia.
"I have an Estonian visa and I intend to apply for political asylum in Estonia," Alexander Glazastikov said on the Russian independent television channel Dozhd on Thursday. "I believe I will officially submit the request to the Estonian government today or tomorrow."
According to Glazastikov, he decided to give up anonymity after he heard that the other members of the group of hackers had been detained by Russian authorities.
"The media reported at the end of January that the other two members of our project were caught by the Russian security service FSB and they were being detained in Lefortovo Prison," explained the remaining free group member. "After that I was convinced that the FSB has my information as well and there is no point in trying to hide myself. It is better to announce myself and do it sooner than to wait until it is done by the media, who we may have hurt with our actions."
Although Shaltai Boltai is considered to be a group of hackers, it was initially launched as a public relations project, he said.
"The organization was created with a political aim," Glazastikov explained. "The initial task of the project was to disclose some secrets which the public does not know or suspect."
Shaltai Boltai hackers have been stealing and publishing the correspondence of top Russian officials, companies and media. High-ranking officials of the FSB have also been detained in connection with the case.
After it became known that a member of Shaltai Boltai was in Estonia on Tuesday, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser said that Estonian authorities would process the person’s asylum request as usual and it would be verified that the person did not pose a threat to the country’s security.
A spokesperson for the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) told BNS on Tuesday that an asylum application proceeding is not public information, therefore the PPA would not be able to comment on it. They added that whether or not asylum would be granted would be the decision of the PPA, not the Estonian government.
Editor: Aili Vahtla