Asia

Algerian 'bank hacker' wanted by FBI held in Thailand

Hamza Bendelladj is lead away by Thai police
Image caption Hamza Bendelladj beamed as he was led away by Thai police officers

An alleged Algerian computer hacker wanted by the FBI on suspicion of stealing millions of dollars from US banks to fund a life of luxury has been arrested in Bangkok, Thai police say.

The FBI have been tracking 24-year-old Hamza Bendelladj, a computer science graduate, for three years.

He is reported to have begun hacking into banks at the age of 20.

Mr Bendelladj said he used the money to fund a life of luxury, a Thai police chief has been quoted as saying.

He was detained at a Bangkok airport on Sunday after arriving from Malaysia for a connecting flight to Cairo.

US authorities accuse him of hacking into private accounts in more than 217 banks and financial companies worldwide, causing millions of dollars in losses.

"When asked what he did with the money, he said he spent it on travelling and a luxurious life, like flying first class and staying in luxury places," immigration police chief Pharnu Kerdlarpphon told reporters.

He was arrested during a stopover at Thailand's international airport while travelling from Malaysia, where he said that he and his family had been on holiday.

Police said they had confiscated two laptops, a tablet computer, a satellite phone and a number of external hard drives from Mr Bendelladj.

He will be extradited to the US state of Georgia, where a district court has issued an arrest warrant.

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