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Russian bitcoin suspect being questioned in Paris — lawyer

Alexander Vinnik's lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou said that the Russian national was "exhausted on the 35th day of hunger strike and insomnia"

ATHENS, January 24. /TASS/. Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik extradited to France from Greece is being questioned by investigators in Paris despite his condition after a 35-day hunger strike, Vinnik's lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou told reporters on Thursday.

"Vinnik is currently being questioned against his will, and he is exhausted on the 35th day of hunger strike and insomnia. They do not allow him to postpone [questioning], do not allow him to contact me," Konstantopoulou said.

"The plane by which he was taken to France arrived from Paris specially for this," she added.

"Alexander is at the Hotel-Dieu hospital, he is exhausted. He told my French colleague the following: he was not allowed to have any communication starting at 9:30am [on Thursday], he was taken from the hospital [in Greece] at 1:30pm, that is two hours before the verdict [of the Greek Council of State] was announced," the lawyer noted.

"He did not know what was going on. He was put in a car, withough being told where he is being taken to. When he saw signs for an airport, he realized he was taken to an airport, but he didn't know which one. At the airport, he saw French police officers, and when he got on the plane, he realized he would be taken to France. There was no prosecutor there, to translators, and nobody told him anything," Konstantopoulou said.

"It is obvious that we are talking about kidnapping, not about extradition," she concluded.

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.