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Russian human rights commissioner prepares address to US authorities over Vinnik case

Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25, 2017 at the United States’ request, where he is accused of money laundering

UN, April ·18. /TASS/. Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said she was preparing a request to the US authorities regarding Alexander Vinnik, who has been kept in a Greek jail since summer 2017 on a US extradition request.

"There is the practice of pardon, which assumes that a person who committed a crime can be released in special situations of humanitarian nature," she said. "I will prepare a request of this kind and I hope that it will be heard."

She hopes that the US side would "look into this situation from the point of view of human rights, humanism and mercy and maybe it would reconsider its extradition request."

Last week, the first instance court in Piraeus, Greece, has rejected the lawyers’ request for Vinnik’s release.

Vinnik case

Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25, 2017 at the United States’ request, where he is accused of laundering four billion to nine billion dollars through a no longer existent Internet exchange of cryptocurrencies BTC-e. In 2017, the Greek Supreme Court ruled Vinnik should be extradited to the United States. In 2018, it first decided in favor of his extradition to Russia at the request of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, and then, to France on Paris-issued European arrest warrant.

Since November 26, 2018 Vinnik had been on hunger strike in jail in protest against "judicial outrage." He claimed he was a political prisoner and demanded the Greek authorities should let him return home. After a nearly three-month-long hunger-strike Vinnik paused the protest action and was transferred to hospital, where he has remained under medical and police supervision since. On Sunday, Vinnik said he was resuming the hunger-strike in protest against unfair trial.

The defense lawyers lodged requests for his release with the Greek authorities, because the 18-month period a person can be kept in custody without hearing official charges expired on January 26, 2019. Article 6 of the Greek Constitution says preliminary custody can last no longer than twelve months. In exceptional cases it can be prolonged by another six months. Vinnik has been in a Greek jail for more than 20 months.