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Google ordered to disclose emails in Russia oligarch's divorce

Google ordered to disclose emails in Russia oligarch's divorce
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A federal judge in San Jose, Calif., has ordered Google to hand over emails from the son of Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov, a billionaire who has been embroiled in a four-year, $600 million divorce battle with his ex-wife. 

According to Bloomberg, Tatiana Akhmedova alleges that her former husband transferred assets to their son, Temur, to avoid paying a London court’s divorce judgment that she says remains “almost entirely unsatisfied.”

The London court earlier awarded 450 million pounds ($601 million) to the oligarch’s ex-wife, most of which Tatiana Akhmedova claims remains unpaid due to an alleged fraudulent transfer of assets. 

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U.S. Magistrate Judge Virginia M. DeMarchi said she would enforce the London court’s ruling allowing Tatiana Akhmedova to obtain her son’s emails from Google. 

The London case was brought to San Jose, where the closest federal court to Google’s Mountain View headquarters is located, in order to pursue the legal action against the multinational search engine and technology company. 

Tatiana Akhmedova noted in her subpoena request that she wants Google to release “all metadata and subscriber information” and “all emails, documents or information” associated with the accounts held by Temur Akhmedov. 

The information from the emails will be used to determine whether Temur helped his father in the fraudulent transfer of millions of dollars in assets, Bloomberg reported. 

Tatiana Akhmedova’s legal team previously led a search of Temur’s apartment, as permitted by a London judge who had accused the son of destroying evidence in connection with the divorce case. 

A spokesperson for Temur Akhmedov said in a statement to The Hill that the U.S. lawsuit is an attempt “to find ‘evidence’ against him which simply does not exist.”

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"Despite their vastly expensive wild goose chase around the world’s courts, they know Temur has nothing to hide," the spokesperson asserted. "Yet, they continue in their attempts to drag him into his mother’s wrongful and misguided case against his father, seemingly with the aim of intimidating him and trying to smear his good name."

“As a result of this latest Google hearing, Temur hopes his mother and her backers will enjoy reading the contents of his old high school email account,” the spokesperson added.

However, Google has argued that it is prohibited by U.S. law from releasing emailed communications without the “express consent” of the user. 

Julie E. Schwartz, a lawyer for Google, told DeMarchi that if Google releases the requested information, it would have “broader implications than just this case here today,” including the potential for Google to be legally punished for releasing information in violation of its content policy.

Updated 2:16 p.m.