Russian accused of Bitcoin fraud appeals extradition

United States wants Greece returns

Courts in Spain and Greece separately ruled within hours of each other this week to extradite two Russian men wanted by USA prosecutors in connection with unrelated federal cybercrime probes amid worsening relations between Washington and Moscow.

A court in the Greek city of Saloniki satisfied a U.S. extradition request for Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik at its hearing on Wednesday.

Vinnik was arrested while on vacation in Greece on July 25, and detained pending the extradition hearing, after a request from U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California. Mr. Vinnik, meanwhile, is accused of masterminding a $4 million money-laundering ring involving bitcoin, a popular form of digital cryptocurrency.

Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office requested Vinnik's extradition to Russian Federation.

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While fighting his extradition to the United States, Vinnik's lawyers said he would not contest the Russian request, which will also be heard by a Greek court.

While Vinnik denies all charges laid against him by both countries, he has consented to Moscow's extradition request, but challenged USA efforts to have him transferred to America. Vinnik is allowed to appeal the decision to the Greek Supreme Court, and he is expected to do so this week. A three-member panel of judges in Thessaloniki, Greece, similarly decided Wednesday that Mr. Vinnik may be extradited as well, according to The Associated Press.

"Through his actions, it is alleged that he stole identities, facilitated drug trafficking, and helped to launder criminal proceeds from syndicates around the world". US authorities also accuse him of laundering funds obtained from the 2014 collapse of the Japan-based exchange Mt. Gox.

Vinnik claims he only worked as a technical consultant for the owners of BTC-e, and was not its operator.

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