The lawyer for the alleged BTC-e exchange operator, Alexander Vinnik, claims that the Greek supreme court has decided to extradite him back to his motherland. If true, this would be a significant blow to US authorities’ attempts to get their hands on Vinnik and extract information from him about Russian hackers.
BTC-e Operator Sent Back to Russia?
The Supreme Court of Greece has approved the extradition of Alexander Vinnik to Russia at its Tuesday session as he requested, his lawyer Ilias Spirliadis told the Russian news agency TASS. “The court’s ruling will be officially made public on September 14. However, as follows from what the judge said at the session, the decision on Vinnik’s extradition to Russia has been made,” Defense Attorney Spirliadis reportedly said.
American authorities accuse Vinnik of running a $4 billion money laundering operation as the head of BTC-e, as well as masterminding multiple crimes since 2011, including drug trafficking and computer hacking. Russia objects to Vinnik’s extradition to the US on the grounds that it violates international law, and demands he be sent back to face charges there for supposedly stealing 600,000 rubles (about $10,500).
An International Power Struggle
This case has put the Greek supreme court in the center of an international power struggle between the US and Russia who both demand the extradition of the suspected BTC-e operator. And in June of this year France also requested he will be turned over to its control. “I do not recognize these fake charges. Russia will sort everything out to determine whether or not I am guilty, while France and the US will not be able to do so, as there is no justice there,” Vinnik reportedly said.
As we reported yesterday, a new explanation has recently popped up as to why the US and Russia are each fighting so hard to ensure that Vinnik will be handed them and not the other. Crypto cybersecurity firm Elliptic claims that BTC-e handled some funds linked to ‘Fancy Bear’ – a Russian military intelligence unit that US investigators accuse of hacking Democrats’ emails ahead of the 2016 presidential elections. With much of the American media and political establishment in panic about “Russian meddling” ever since the election of Donald Trump, it is no doubt they will make it a priority to be able to interrogate anyone suspected to have any collaborating information.
Should Vinnik be extradited to Russia or the US? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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