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A potential swap deal for Vinnik is increasingly looking to have a high probability.
Alexander Vinnik, the Russian co-founder of the crypto exchange BTC-e, may have just had his hopes of regaining freedom renewed. Vinnik is currently facing money laundering charges in the US and has since last September been pushing for a release by a “prisoner swap” deal.
According to a Wednesday WSJ report, however, the freedom push has now gained new momentum. Vinnik’s lawyer, David Rizk is reportedly putting in a case for him to be included in any prisoner exchange that might take place between Russia and the United States. That is for the WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested by Russian authorities in March. Rizk wrote:
“Mr Vinnik should be permitted to … answer the accusations against him and advocate publicly for his inclusion in a prisoner swap.”
Rizk’s statement is in line with an earlier court order that forbids Vinnik from discussing his case publicly. According to the public defender, Vinnik’s chances of being included in such an exchange might be dependent on the publicity of their lobbying.
What are the Odds that BTC-e Founder Alexander Vinnik Gets Released?
A potential swap deal for Vinnik is increasingly looking to have a high probability. Recall that when Gershkovich was arrested in Russia and charged with espionage, US officials condemned the act. At the time, they called it a “wrongful detention of an internationally-respected journalist,” calling for his immediate release.
For many years, Russian authorities have also remained in an extradition fight with US prosecutors over Vinnik, who was arrested in Greece in 2017. He was later extradited to France, where he served two years in a French prison. And finally, he was eventually extradited to the US on August 5, 2022.
So, this might be a win-win situation for both countries. After all, both governments are known to often rush to try to gain custody of their citizens that are nabbed abroad and accused of serious wrongdoings.
A similar situation occurred last December when the US brought WNBA star Brittney Griner out of Russian custody. That deal was a swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
BTC-e was founded in 2011 but was closed by US authorities in July 2017. The closure was for the role that the exchange played in a wide range of cybercrimes.