Alexandre Vinnik, a Russian computer and cryptocurrency expert, spent two years in prison in France after being arrested in Greece.
Greece has extradited a Russian computer and cryptocurrency expert convicted of money laundering in France to the United States, hours after his release from prison, his lawyer announced on Friday. Alexander Vinnik “was placed on a private plane bound for the United States” without being allowed to seek asylum in Greece, his lawyer, Zoe Konstantopoulou, said.
Alexander Vinnik, 43, had been handed over to Greece by French authorities on Thursday afternoon, just weeks after his final sentence in Paris to five years in prison for money laundering by the Court of Cassation, the highest authority. French judiciary, said in France a source close to the file.
Father of two children, Alexander Vinnik spent two years in prison in France after being extradited by Greece. He was arrested in July 2017 in the Greek seaside resort of Halkidiki (north) and Greece decided to return him to France, while Russia and the United States also requested his extradition. Arriving in the United States, he was presented to a federal judge in San Francisco on Friday, the United States Department of Justice said in a statement.
He is the subject of 21 counts, including identity theft, complicity in drug trafficking and money laundering. Prosecutors accuse Alexander Vinnik “of running BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange platform that laundered more than four billion dollars in criminal proceeds.” This tool has “facilitated transactions for cybercriminals around the world” by “allowing its users to exchange bitcoins with a high level of anonymity”, specified the American justice.
In Russia, on the other hand, he is accused only of fraud for an amount of 9500 euros. Russia is “outraged by the unfriendly actions of Greece which, under pressure from the United States” extradited Alexander Vinnik to “American punitive justice”, reacted in the evening from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release. “Despite an official request from the Russian Embassy in Athens, no consular employee, nor his lawyer and interpreter were allowed to see him,” the statement said.
“Russian diplomats are doing everything possible to defend its legitimate rights and interests,” he said.