Alleged BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik to be Extradited to France, Greek Court Rules
The court in Greek city of Thessaloniki agreed on Friday to extradite a Russian cybercrime suspect and alleged BTC-e exchange operator Alexander Vinnik to France.
Vinnik, 38, who was arrested in Greece last year on a US-issued warrant, is also wanted on criminal charges in the United States and Russia.
France is seeking Vinnik for alleged cybercrime, money laundering, membership in a criminal organization and extortion. French authorities accuse Vinnik of defrauding thousands of people worldwide, including about 100 French nationals, by launching cyberattacks through his bitcoin platform. They allege he used 20,643 bitcoins to launder around 133 million euros ($155 million.)
Vinnik has denied doing anything illegal. He remains jailed in Greece pending final decisions on his extradition.
The Greek Supreme Court earlier approved Vinnik’s extradition to the U.S. to stand trial for allegedly laundering billions of dollars using bitcoin.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities sent a new request this month for Vinnik’s extradition Russia initially sought Vinnik on lesser fraud charges, and a Greek court ruled for his extradition to Russia based on the first request. The second request raises the amount of money allegedly involved in the cyberfraud there to 750 million rubles ($12 million.)
Defense lawyer Ilias Spyrliadis said a European warrant ordinarily would take precedence over others, giving France first dibs on prosecuting Vinnik. But he said in practice, it’ll be up to Greece’s justice minister to decide where Vinnik ends up.
Notably, the ruling was made a day after Greek authorities confirmed that two Russian diplomats were being expelled for allegedly providing protest funding in an attempt to keep neighbor Macedonia from joining NATO.
The Russian Foreign Ministry indicated it was considering reprisals.
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