One of Alexander Vinnik’s lawyers asked Russian authorities to include his client in a potential prisoner swap deal with Washington. Vinnick was the suspected administrator of BTC-e and was convicted of transferring more than $4 billion through the now-defunct crypto exchange.
After seeing the communications, Reuters reported on Monday that Frédéric Belot, the representative of Vinnik’s security staff in French courts, made his appeal in a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The move comes after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced in July that the US had made a “significant proposal” to Moscow to evacuate Americans detained in Russia. They include basketball player Brittney Griner and Marine veteran Paul Whelan.
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Alexander Vinnik was detained on a US warrant in Thessaloniki in 2017, where he was on summer vacation with his family. After considering several extradition requests, including one from Russia, Greek authorities chose to hand him over first to France, where he was recently sentenced to five years in prison for financial fraud.
The Russian official was sent back to Greece by French authorities, who promptly transported him to the United States in early August. He later appeared in federal court in San Francisco, where he was denied bail. His defense previously argued that extradition to the US would make him a soldier in the conflict over Russia’s occupation of Ukraine.
Winnick suffers from memory problems due to his long imprisonment in a French prison.
According to Belot, Alexander Vinnik continues to deny and reject all the charges against him. According to experts, and according to his lawyer, Winnick suffers from partial memory loss as a result of being held in solitary confinement in France.
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