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Russian bitcoin suspect Vinnik extradited to France — lawyer

Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece in July 2017 on suspicion of laundering four to nine billion US dollars through a now-defunct cryptocurrency trading platform BTC-e

ATHENS, January 24. /TASS/. Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik who was arrested in July 2017 in Greece has been extradited to France and is currently at the Hotel-Dieu hospital in Paris, Vinnik's lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou told reporters on Thursday.

"Alexander is currently at the Hotel-Dieu hospital in Paris, as I was informed by my French colleague, while the Greek authorities evade providing information and pretend be unaware of anything," Konstantopoulou said.

She added that the French authorities have not yet allowed Konstantopoulou's French colleague to talk to Vinnik. "She has not been allowed to see Vinnik yet. They will try to question him later today, when he is exhausted and doesn't have any communication or information! I have already sent a petition to move the questioning for tomorrow. If this is not the full elimination of the rule of law, then what is it?" Konstantopoulou wondered.

Vinnik was detained while vacationing in Greece on July 25, 2017 at the United States’ request, where he is accused of laundering four to nine billion US dollars through a no longer existent Internet exchange of cryptocurrencies BTC-e. The Thessaloniki court of appeals and the Greek Supreme Court ruled Vinnik be extradited to the United States and France. Russia is also seeking his extradition and has a corresponding verdict of the Greek Supreme Court. Vinnik denied Washington’s and Paris’ charges and agreed to be extradited to Russia.

On December 19, 2019, Greek Justice Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras delivered a decision to extradite Vinnik to France, the United States and Russia. It means that Vinnik is to be extradited first to France to consider his case and pronounce the verdict. After that, he is to be taken back to Greece to be later extradited to the United States for a similar procedure, which is to be followed by extradition to Russia. Following this decision, Vinnik went on another hunger strike.

Vinnik’s Greek defense attorney Zoe Konstantopoulou told reporters on December 23 that the chairperson of the Council of State’s (Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court) fourth department had issued a temporary order to suspend enforcement of the decision to extradite Alexander Vinnik to France, the US and Russia, "recognizing the danger" the man would face in case of his extradition. However, on the following day, the Council of State’s president questioned the department’s judgement and ruled to refer Vinnik’s case to an expanded panel of judges on January 10, 2020.

On January 10, the panel of judges rejected all claims by Vinnik’s defense, which demanded that the previous decision of the Greek justice minister on his extradition to France, the US and then Russia be cancelled. The court has given the attorneys until January 16 to present additional documents in Vinnik’s defense. After submiting the necessary documents, Vinnik's lawyer Timofey Musatov said that the defense team wants a more active participation of the Russian authorities in the case.

On January 23, the Greek Council of State refused all petitions and confirmed the decision to extradit Vinnik to France, and then to the United States and Russia.