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News of #Encrochat: France extradites Spanish EncroChat cryptophone distributors for complicity


Three Spanish nationals have been extradited from Spain to France to face charges that they supplied EncroChat encrypted phones that were used by organised crime groups.

French public prosecutors argue that the distributors were complicit in the activities of organised criminals who had used EncroChat mobile phones for drug sales and money laundering.

A European Arrest and Surrender Order, issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Lille, France, accuses three phone resellers of being complicit in a criminal organisation, drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal possession of weapons and cyber crime.

At least one person was handed over to the French authorities on 21 August 2022 and appeared before an examining judge in Lille on 23 August.

He was released on bail and is required to report to the police while investigations continue, according to his lawyer, Alberto López Orive, who said his client returned to Spain between 1 and 2 September.

Encrypted phones legal in Spain

Although supplying encrypted phones is legal in Spain, encrypted communication devices that are not used exclusively for identity and access control can only be legally sold with permission from the French government.

“In Spain, [selling encrypted phones] is not punishable by any kind of penalty,” said López Orive.

“Encrypted systems that don’t go through a kind of prior declaration, that don’t have an authorisation, are considered a crime [in France].”

Spain’s extradition law (Law 4/1985 of 21 March 1985 on Passive Extradition) requires courts to follow the principle of double criminality, which means offenders can only be extradited if the same offence exists in both countries.

In 2002, however, the Council of the European Union introduced Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA, which removed this requirement for EU member states in cases for up to 32 types of crime, including membership of a criminal organisation, drug trafficking and money laundering.

French and Dutch police co-operated in a hacking cooperation against the EncroChat network, with the support of Europol and Eurojust in 2020, which has led to thousands of arrests around the world, including the UK.


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