If extradited to the United States, crypto exchange BTC-e’s alleged operator Alexander Vinnik will become a “hostage” due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to his Greek lawyer. France will likely send the Russian national back to Greece in the near future and Zoe Konstantopoulou wants to stop his transfer to U.S custody.
Alexander Vinnik’s Greek Defense Fights His Extradition to US
The return of Alexander Vinnik from France to Greece, who was convicted as a money laundering crook, is likely to be approved by a French court next week. In 2017, the Russian national was detained in Greece and sent to France where, two years later he was also charged with identity theft. The five year sentence he was given in France has been completed, taking into consideration the time he spent detained before the trial.
Vinnik, who was on holiday with his family in Thessaloniki when he was arrested, had a U.S. warrant. He is accused of laundering $4 billion via the notorious BTC-e Exchange, as well as money stolen from Mt Gox. American authorities suspect Vinnik of also collaborating with Russian intelligence.
With a decision made by Kostas Tiaras (then justice minister), Greece agreed to Vinnik’s extradition. Vinnik’s defense team now fears that soon after he is returned to the country, he will be transferred to the United States.
This development has been blocked by Zoe Konstantopoulou (his former parliamentary speaker from Greece), his lawyer. In the U.S., the 43-year-old Russian IT specialist will effectively become a “hostage” of the geopolitical clash around the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she warned.
In a recent report, Kathimerini published that Konstantopoulou opposes extradition to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. Vinnik’s wife died in 2020 and they have two sons, now aged 8 and 11, who are growing up without parents.
The U.S. withdrew their request for the Russian to be taken directly from France this month. However, according to his French lawyer Frederic Belot, this is merely a “deceitful maneuver,” meant to actually speed up his extradition through Greece, where the U.S. request is already approved.
Moscow officials also asked France and Greece to turn over Alexander Vinnik, who is being accused of other offences. In jail, the crypto entrepreneur had previously expressed his willingness to go back to his country to face trial.
Is it possible that Alexander Vinnik, who was handed over to France by Greece, will be exonerated in the United States? Comment below to share your thoughts about this case.
Image creditShutterstock. Pixabay. Wiki commons. Russian Embassy, Greece
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