France turns down Russia’s request ‘to be handed over BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik.’

The French authorities have rejected Russia’s request to hand over the operator of the collapsed BTC-e digital currency exchange, Alexander Vinnik, to Russia, the Kommersant daily newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the situation. The French had arrested Vinnik in Greece last year and then released him pending extradition to the United States. However, a French court canceled the international arrest warrant against him in May. The French authorities turned down the request because Vinnik is a Russian citizen and was not extradited to Russia in the first place, the newspaper said.

As you may know, Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece on July 25, 2017, at the request of the United States authorities who accuse him of laundering money through BTC-e, one of the most important Bitcoin exchanges. On August 22, Russia had requested the handover of the Russian suspect Alexander Vinnik to the Russian authorities. This was refused by the French authorities who believe that the Russian request was not legal.

Summary of the situation

  • France rejected Russia’s request to extradite Vinnik.
  • Vinnik is planning a new hunger strike.

French judicial authorities have rejected Russia’s request to extradite the BTC-e operator to them, the Russian legal representative said. Alexandre had hoped to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the decision of the French judicial authorities has taken away all hope. Vinnik is ready to start a new hunger strike despite his health problems. Vinnik has been in custody since 2017.

Vinnik trial continues in France

The digital currency exchange BTC-e was recently indicted for money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 100 000 euros. Russian human rights ombudswoman Tatyana said French judicial authorities had rejected her government’s request for Vinnik’s extradition. But the procedure continues. Last year, a Paris criminal court found Winnik guilty of money laundering, but the charges against him were dropped. Winnik was arrested in 2017 while on vacation with his family after the United States issued a warrant for his arrest. Vinnik was imprisoned in Greece for 30 months without charge; he was on hunger strike for about three months. This decision was made after Vinnik was held longer than the law allows. He ended his hunger strike after being visited in hospital by Tatyana, the Russian Commissioner for Human Rights. She told Russian media that Vinnik is in bad shape and needs professional medical attention or he could die.

Health status of Vinick

The alleged co-founder of the digital asset exchange BTC-e has been indicted for laundering about $9 billion. Mr Vinnik’s health is receiving special attention after a Russian spokesman said the computer scientist is ready to start a new hunger strike after France rejected the Russian’s request. Tatyana Moskalkova said she knew nothing about the suicide attempt, but Vinnix’s lawyer said his psychological state was terrible at the time. The Human Rights Commissioner hopes that the prisoners will have the courage to continue actively fighting for their rights. Tatyana regrets that the world has not yet listened to the appeal of the Russian Human Rights Commission and other Russian authorities, such as the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Vinnik case is a source of tension as the three main countries demand the prisoner’s extradition to them. In 2019, Greek Justice Minister Kostas decided to extradite Vinnik to France, then to the United States, and finally to his native Russia.

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