Icelandic National Allegedly Involved in Cryptocurrency Mining Rig Thefts Recaptured in Amsterdam

An Icelandic national who escaped from jail at end of last week for his involvement in a cryptocurrency mining heist has been arrested in Amsterdam, according to reports.

Sindri Thor Stefansson, originally arrested in February, is one of 11 men wanted in connection with the theft of 600 computers in late-December and early-January which were being used to mine digital currencies. The machines, worth $2 million, are still missing.

Iceland is a popular location for cryptocurrency mining operations because almost 100% of the power generated in the Nordic country comes from renewable resources. The cold climate is also ideal as operating mining rigs produces a lot of excess heat.

Stefansson’s Escape

Last week Stefansson escaped Sogn open prison in southern Iceland and made his way to Keflavik International Airport. He then took a flight to Sweden with a ticket under another man’s name. Soon thereafter, an international warrant was issued for his arrest.

On Sunday, in what may have led to his capture, Stefansson was photographed with two others in front of the Bijenkorf department store in central Amsterdam and the picture was placed on Instagram, according to Dutch newspaper The Algemeen Dagblad.

As of now it is unclear how Stefansson made his way to Amsterdam, and Icelandic police have not yet released detailed information regarding his re-capture, reports the Associated Press. It was reported, though, that authorities had been monitoring electricity consumption patterns in the search for the missing rigs, and also called upon local internet service providers, electricians, and owners of storage units to report any suspicious behavior.

Stefansson Held Without Trail

In a recently penned letter to Iceland’s Frettabladid newspaper, Stefansson claimed he was not guilty and that he had been held in the country without trial. According to the letter, he had plans to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Stefansson said he was not serving a sentence in Iceland and that his period of custody had run out. He claims he was told on Monday of last week, before he escaped, that he was free to go, but that police would without explanation arrest him if he left the prison.

“I simply refuse to be in prison of my own free will, especially when the police threaten to arrest me without explanation,” he said in the letter, where he claimed that he was forced to sign a statement agreeing to remain in custody.

According to Stefansson, there was no evidence that he was involved in the mining rig heist, ‘only suspicion.’ Without further information available at this time, it’s hard to say if there’s any truth to his claims of innocence. What’s certain is that Icelandic police must have more than ‘suspicion’ considering the lengths gone to re-capture the fugitive.