ATHENS, November 23. /TASS/. Russian national Alexander Vinnik, arrested in 2017 in Greece over Bitcoin fraud at the US request, will go on a hunger strike on Monday, head of Vinnik's team of lawyers Timofey Musatov told TASS on Friday.
Greece's Supreme Court ruled in 2017 to extradite Vinnik to the United States but revised its decision this year and ruled to extradite him to Russia instead. In June, France sent a European arrest warrant for Vinnik to Athens. On Novembr 19, the Supreme Court of Greece discussed the decision of the Thessaloniki court to extradite Vinnik to France but postponed reviewing the ruling to November 29.
According to Musatov, "Alexander Vinnik decided to go on a hunger strike because he realized he was stripped of the right for defense in France and, consequently, in Greece." "Moreover, it became clear that the European arrest warrant [issued by France] expired," the lawyer said adding that such warrant is valid for 90 days after being issued.
"The Greek Supreme Court's judge completely ignores the work of lawyers who cannot even file a petition. She does not give them an opportunity to speak or do it. After observing this situation, Alexander realized that he would either get a fair trial or die," Musatov explained. "If there is no fair trial, he will inevitably be deported to the United States through France, where he will get something close to a life sentence, which equals death," he added.
Vinnik "does not want to put up with this," the lawyer said. "Considering the fact that [Vinnik's Greek] lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou openly said [at the session of the Greek Supreme Court on November 19] that the court would not treat any citizen of an EU member country or Greece as it treats Alexander just because he is a Russian national, Alexander understood that he does not have any other options and decided to go on a hunger strike on Monday in protest against this situation," Musatov said.
Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25, 2017, at America’s request, where he is accused of laundering $4-9 billion through the now non-existent BTC-e cryptocurrency trading platform. Due to the conflicting extradition requests, the decision on Vinnik’s extradition is likely to be made by the country’s Minister of Justice or, possibly, the Greek leadership.