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A Greek court has cleared the US extradition of Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, the alleged former operator of bitcoin exchange BTC-e, arrested in Greece on July 25.
The extradition of Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik to the United States was satisfied today by the three-member panel of judges in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece. The US authorities accuse Vinnik of a $4 billion bitcoin fraud case.
According to the report, soon after the court’s decision was made, Alexandros Lykourezos, the lawyer leading the defense of the accused, moved on to appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of his client.
Alexandros Lykourezos stated:
“We have not seen the formal decision and we’ll wait for it to come out before making comment. We have taken immediate action and appealed the ruling and the case will be examined by the criminal division of the Supreme Court.”
Alexander Vinnik is also wanted on his motherland, in Russia, which has requested his extradition on lesser fraud charges. A hearing on that request will be heard in Thessaloniki on Oct. 11. Despite fighting the client’s extradition to the US, Vinnik’s lawyer said he wouldn’t contest the Russian request.
Alexander Vinnik was arrested on July 25 while his family vacation in northern Greece on request of US authorities, whoaccuse him of money laundering and running cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e to facilitate crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking since 2011.
The alleged Vinnik’s BTC-e had stopped operating for the reason of its operator’s arrest until it got back online on September 2 and announced its official rebranding on September 15.
The US authorities also suspect Vinnik in his connection to the failure of Mt.Gox, a Japan-based digital currency exchange that stopped operating in 2014 after the hackers’ attack. They accuse the Russian 37-yaer-old of obtaining funds from the hack of Mt. Gox and laundering them through BTC-e and Tradehill, a San Francisco-based exchange he allegedly owned.
If extradited to the United Stated, Alexander Vinnik faces up to 55 years behind bars.
Vinnik himself denies all charges against him by claiming to be not more than a common technical consultant to BTC-e and never its operator. He denies the accusation from Russian side as well, but consents to being returned home.
As Alexander told the judges today:
“I have nothing to do with what I am accused of.”
He also adds that the electronic equipment confiscated during his arrest had no relation to his job and that the laptop seized by police contained only cartoons for his children.
As in words of Vinnik’s wife Alexandra, the US extradition would be “weird,” as the accused had neither lived nor worked in the country.