France has turned down Russia’s extradition request for BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik, who is now serving time in prison for money laundering.
Alexander Vinnik, the infamous BTC-e crypto exchange operator, was recently sentenced to five years in prison and a €100,000 fine. Russia’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatyana Moskalkova, was quoted by RIA Novosti saying that Russia’s request to extradite Alexander Vinnik was denied on Thursday and that the matter is still being considered. Vinnik had already been convicted of money laundering and sentenced to five years in jail by the Paris Correctional Court.
Alexander Vinnik is planning another hunger strike.
According to the Russian Ombudsman, despite his health worsening after nearly four years in imprisonment, Vinnik is now ready to begin a second hunger strike. Vinnik was arrested in Greece in July 2017 while on vacation with his family. He was arrested on a warrant issued by the US government, accusing him of laundering up to $9 billion through the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. Vinnik had been held in Greek detention for 30 months without being charged, for which he went on a nearly three-month hunger strike. He’s now prepared to launch a new strike.
In Russia, Vinnik is suspected of stealing $10 million.
With Russia, France, and the United States all requesting his extradition, Alexander Vinnik’s case has become a source of international tension. The Greek minister of justice, Kostas Tsiaras, agreed in December 2019 to hand over the Russian citizen to France first, then to the United States and Russia. In his own nation, Vinnik is also facing criminal allegations. Prosecutors in Russia accuse him of stealing over 600,000 rubles ($8,000) and committing “fraud in the field of computer information” worth an estimated 750 million rubles ($10 million). These charges are, however, less serious than those he faces in the United States and France.