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Australia mulls extradition of alleged Silk Road moderator

CANBERRA (Reuters) - The Australian government said it is deciding whether to extradite to the United States an alleged moderator of Silk Road, a website where people buy illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine using digital currency bitcoin.

Peter Phillip Nash, 41, from Australia's Queensland state, and two other men were charged with conspiracy to engage in narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering in relation to the website in December.

On Saturday, a spokeswoman for Australian Attorney-General George Brandis confirmed Nash appeared before a court in Queensland on Friday where he formally waived extradition rights.

"The Australian Minister for Justice must now determine under section 15B of the Extradition Act whether to surrender Mr Nash to the United States of America," the spokeswoman said.

A spokesperson for Australian Minister for Justice Michael Keenan could not immediately be reached for comment.

The two other accused men, aged 24 and 25, were arrested in the United States and Ireland and were administrators for the website, while Nash was a primary moderator, the indictment, made public in December, said.

The charges followed the arrest in October of alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who is known online as "Dread Pirate Roberts. The indictment said the three men were part of Ulbricht's "small support staff" for Silk Road with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $75,000 a year.

Nash, who was also known by names including "Batman73" and "Anonymousasshit," was a moderator since at least January 2013.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Michael Perry)

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