Vinnik Extradition Battle Not Over, Russian Foreign Ministry Gets Involved

After a court in Thessaloniki ruled in favor of the U.S. extradition of Alexander Vinnik, his lawyers filed an appeal with the backing of the Russian Foreign Ministry for relocation to his home country.

Alexander Vinnik, one of the men allegedly responsible for running BTC-e (one of the oldest and largest Bitcoin exchanges which went down after his arrest and recently resurfaced after a rebranding) is currently in the middle of a fight between Russia and the United States for his extradition based on charges of money laundering.

While a court in Thessaloniki issued a verdict extraditing him to the United States, awaiting a sentence that could give him up to 55 years of jail time, the Greek supreme court has received a letter from Vinnik’s lawyers requesting an appeal of the decision.

Russian authorities are calling the extradition unfair, with the country’s Foreign Ministry getting involved as well.

Alexander Vinnik, who was with his wife and children at a beach in Greece, was arrested by a swarm of “more than 20 agents” on the 27th of July, after several months of investigation, according to a report by the Washington Post. The man was charged with 21 counts of money laundering and for his suspected role in the Mt. Gox hack, in which more than 600,000 Bitcoins were siphoned off.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has since placed its own extradition request, stating that it should be prioritized because Vinnik is a Russian citizen and “the [Greek] verdict is unjust and violates the basics of international law.”

His wife also spoke to the Russian international TV station, alleging that his extradition is a political move to get more intellectual capital onto American soil. She says that the U.S. wants her husband “because of his knowledge, because of his intellectual abilities above all.”

The FBI had seized the now-defunct BTC-e exchange's domain back in July for embracing “the pervasive criminal activity conducted” there, but that isn’t the end of the story.

In the middle of last month, they came back online, now flying the banner of Wex.nz. Users who had balances on the BTC-e exchange were relieved to find out that 61 percent of their coins were saved on the rebranded site, with the rest of their balance taking the form of debt tokens that Wex.nz promises to repay.