According to the French attorney of Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of BTC-e, the US authorities have withdrawn their request made to the French authorities about his extradition. However, the lawyer said that they believe it is a maneuver from the authorities to actually speed up the process of the crypto exchange operator’s extradition via Greece.
Frederic Belot is defending Alexander Vinnik in French courts and he said that the request submitted in 2020 by US authorities for extraditing his client from France has been withdrawn. The Russian IT specialist had been sentenced for money laundering in France and had served a five-year prison sentence.
His international defense team has been making efforts to get Vinnik released in France, but the country is more likely to send him back to Greece. This is where he had been arrested on a warrant issued by American prosecutors back in the summer of 2017. He had been accused of using the renowned crypto exchange BTC-e for laundering funds of about $4 billion.
According to Belot, the process of extraditing his client to the US had been resumed by the French prosecutor’s office on July 1st this year in order to ensure that he does not get released. He stated that this withdrawal from the US authorities was a ‘deceitful maneuver, and their goal was to ensure Vinnik is not released from prison until he is returned to Greece.
Greece grants extradition request
It should be noted that an extradition request from the US authorities had already been granted by their Greek counterparts before he was sent to France. This means that Vinnik’s return to Greece would only speed up the process of his extradition. Belot also said that they rescheduled the hearing for its client’s case. It had originally been meant to happen on August 3rd, but the new date that has been set is September 7th.
Until the hearing, the Russian national will stay behind bars in France. The hearings have been taking place in Paris at the Investigative Chamber of the court. According to Belot, the Russian national’s lawyers had reminded the judicial authorities in France that there was another request for extradition that had been made to France.
Russia requested extradition
The lawyer said that this request had been made by Russian authorities and it had come long before the United States. The accusations against Alexander Vinnik in his home country are of theft of about 750 million rubles in 2018.
He has stated that he wants to go back to his home country. He had been extradited to France back in 2020 by the Greek authorities because he had been accused in the country of engaging in extortion and identity theft.
It appears that there are numerous countries that are after Vinnik, as he seems to have conducted a number of illegal activities in different jurisdictions. It remains to be seen where he will be extradited next.