Accused Bitcoin Launderer Alexander Vinnik Appeals for Humanitarian Release

Alexander Vinnik, a 39-year-old Russian national accused by three countries of crimes involving bitcoins, including money-laundering and fraud, has filed an appeal with a court in Piraeus, Greece, asking that he be released from prison on humanitarian grounds and returned to Russia, Ekathimerini reports.

Vinnik has been being held in various Greek prisons since July 2017, when he was arrested while vacationing with his wife and two young children in the resort town of Thessaloniki.

As of last fall, various Greek courts had agreed to extradite Vinnik to the US, France and Russia, meaning Greek Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou will have to make the final decision.

Charges against Vinnik stem from the time he allegedly administered the London-based BTC-e bitcoin trading platform, where authorities have claimed he presided over the laundering of billions in bitcoins.

Vinnik has insisted that his role at BTC-e was minor. However, victims who lost money in the notorious $470 million USD hack on the Mt Gox exchange say they traced bitcoins stolen from them directly to personal bitcoin accounts held by Alexander Vinnik.

Vinnik may also have processed bitcoins used to fund Russian hacks against the Hillary Clinton campaign for the US presidency in 2016.

Vinnik and his lawyers have launched repeated challenges against the circumstances of his detention in Greece.

They say Vinnik has been held for more than the maximum 18-months permitted for pre-trial detention.

They also say he has been held forced to sleep on bare floors and has been transported for long distances while handcuffed.

At the urging of the Russian Human Rights Commissioner, Vinnik ended an 80-day hunger strike he embarked upon to protest his detention and treatment.

He also began that strike shortly after it was reported that someone had attempted to poison his prison food.

Vinnik was reportedly in a very weakened state at the end of the hunger strike and had to be transferred to a prison hospital to recover under supervision.

As well, Vinnik advocates are claiming that his wife is terminally ill in Russia.

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