The “only thing that can save” Alexander Vinnik, who claims US authorities run a $4 billion cryptocurrency exchange that has been trading with ransomware gangs, is that the Russian government It’s a case of negotiating a prisoner exchange, said Mr Vinick’s French lawyer, Frédéric Bellow. Letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov obtained by CNN.
CNN has reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department for comment on the letter to Lavrov.
US prosecutors have been fighting extradition with Russian authorities for years over Vinnik, who was arrested in Greece, then extradited to France, and sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering in 2020. The Justice Department eventually won an appeal to arrest Vinnik, who made his first court appearance on Aug. 5 in the Northern District of California.
Vinnik is accused of running a cryptocurrency exchange known as BTC-e and trading with various cybercriminals, including drug dealers and identity thieves.
Vinnik has pleaded not guilty, according to Bello, who represents the 42-year-old Russian man in France. CNN has reached out to public defender David Rizk for comment.
The Russian government, through its US embassies and consulates, often pays close attention to the trials of Russian cybercriminals. Nor is Vinnik the first Russian to be extradited by the Kremlin to another government after US prosecutors filed their own extradition request.