Greece Ends Tug-of-War with Extradition of BTC-e Operator to France

The decision resolves a legal war in which Greece also had to consider rival extradition requests from Russia and US.

Greek authorities are giving effect to an order issued by a court last year and supported France’s extradition request for Alexander Vinnik, an alleged Russian hacker accused of laundering $4 billion of criminal proceeds through BTC-e.

According to the Russian Embassy in Greece, which expressed regret over the decision, the Greek justice minister has signed a decision on the extradition of Vinnik to France. The embassy told RIA Novosti news agency that it believes this verdict is unjust and violates the basic provisions of international law.

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The decision, however, appears to resolve a legal war in which Greece also had to consider rival extradition requests from Russia and the United States.

Vinnik’s lawyers appealed to the Greek Supreme Court, claiming that there are insufficient indications, let alone evidence against Vinnik, who has been held in custody since his arrest in July 2017 while vacationing in northern Greece.

Moscow has also submitted an extradition request for Vinnik, who denies his country’s accusations of fraud but has consented to its extradition request.

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“We got acquainted with the decision of the Greek Minister of Justice, which determines the order of execution of decisions issued earlier by Greek courts on the extradition of the Russian citizen Vinnik to Russia, France, the USA. At the first stage, Vinnik will be extradited to France. We were informed about this by Moscow. We are sorry that the Prosecutor General’s reasonable request Russia ignored Vinnik’s priority extradition to his country of citizenship,” the embassy representative said.

Athens favors the French request

In 2017, a Greek court ruled in favor of extraditing Alexander Vinnik, 40, the alleged former operator of BTC-e, to the United States. In July, Vinnik was arrested near the northern city of Thessaloniki on a US warrant, where authorities want him on several charges of fraud, including laundering stolen funds from the hack of the defunct bitcoin exchange MtGox.

French authorities indicted Alexander Vinnik following an investigation that described him as the operator of BTC-e exchange, which was allegedly used to launder more than 130 million euros for people involved in crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking.

US authorities also said that he was the brain behind the collapse of Japan-based bitcoin exchange MtGox, after which he laundered the stolen monies through BTC-e and another San Francisco-based exchange called Tradehill.

Vinnik’s arrest coincided with a series of US-initiated operations against Russian hackers after officials claimed that Russia interfered in the US presidential election to help Donald Trump takes office, something Moscow denies.

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