Russian lawyer accused of money laundering wants client to join US-Russia prisoner exchange talks

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.

The appeal was filed as the Biden administration continues to try to secure the release of multiple Americans detained or imprisoned in Russia. sentenced to nine years in prison To carry cannabis oil at the airport in Moscow.

CNN has reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department for comment on the letter to Lavrov.

Reuters First report About Bello’s 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.

Alexei Burkov, whom US officials accused of running an online forum for “elite cybercriminals,” was extradited from Israel to the US in 2019 after fierce opposition from Moscow. Burkov said he was sentenced to nine years in a U.S. prison in 2020, but ultimately deported to Russia September 2021. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on details of the incident at the time, but clarified that Mr. Berkoff’s deportation was “not coercive.” [prisoner] Exchange money. “


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