Greek Top Court Grants Moscow’s Request for Extradition of Crypto Hacker Vinnik
The Supreme Court of Greece has reached a decision in the case regarding the extradition of Russian cryptocurrency expert Alexander Vinnik, according to his lawyer.
The suspect was arrested in Greece on July 25, 2017, and since then, the U.S., France, and Russia have been disputing their right to take him into custody.
Vinnik is Linked to Russia Election Meddling
The court’s ruling, which will be made public next week, orders the Greek authorities to hand him over to Russia. The resolution goes against what the U.S. prosecutors had in mind when they asked Greece’s law enforcement to detain Vinnik on grounds of leading the BTC-e exchange.
The operator is allegedly behind the money laundering of $9 billion for criminal enterprises, including hacking unit Fancy Bear, which is accused of being involved in stealing and releasing the Democratic Party’s emails. There are now four court rulings: one in favor of the U.S., another for France, and two decisions on his extradition to Russia. The final say may go to Greece’s justice minister.
The story of Alexander Vinnik’s extradition story has seen a number of back and forths. The suspect was first arrested on a U.S.-issued international warrant, specifically for 21 counts of money laundering. The U.S.’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a $110 million penalty against BTC-e, which included a $12 million penalty for Vinnik.
Following a failed assassination attempt on Vinnik while he was incarcerated and a request for asylum rejected by Greece, which he appealed, France was able to have the court rule in its favor. The French accused him of defrauding thousands of people worldwide and about 100 French nationals as well as of laundering approximately $155 million with Bitcoin. The defense, however, filed an appeal with the Greek Supreme Court. Vinnik claimed that France was just another link for his extradition to the U.S.
Russia also called for his extradition to face cyber fraud charges. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked to be given priority over France’s and that may have been the case. Vinnik also asked the court judges to rule in favor of Russia. The hacker was clear about his feelings towards the U.S. and France legal system, he told TASS.
“I do not recognize these fake charges. Russia will sort everything out to determine whether or not I am guilty, while France and the U.S. will not be able to do so, as there is no justice there.”
U.S. prosecutors suspect Russia’s claim to Vinnik’s extradition serves only the purpose of protecting state secrets from being disclosed in the Mueller investigation. His insights could be highly valuable to the probe, as well as threatening to Russia’s claim of innocence.
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