Alexander Vinnik’s Hunger Strike Begins Following Postponed Extradition Review

November 27, 2018 1:20 AM

Hey, if it can work for Homer Simpson, then why not Alexander Vinnik?

ETHNews covered reports this summer that France, the US, and Russia had all requested Vinnik’s extradition from Greece after he was arrested in 2017 for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion worth of bitcoin through the defunct bitcoin exchange BTC-e, apparently obtained from illegal activities such as the MtGox hack. Now, Vinnik’s lawyer, Timofey Musatov, told Russian news agency Tass that Vinnik will go on a hunger strike starting today, after the supreme court of Greece postponed the review of a Greek court’s decision to extradite Vinnik to France.

After first ruling to extradite Vinnik to the US in 2017, Greece’s supreme court revised the ruling, opting instead to send him to Russia. By July 2018, a Greek court in Thessaloniki approved Vinnik’s extradition to France amid claims he had defrauded about 100 French citizens. On November 19, the Greek Supreme Court held a court session to review the Thessaloniki court’s decision but postponed the review until November 29.

Musatov revealed that Vinnik’s decision to go on a hunger strike was born out of a realization that he would likely not have access to a proper defense in France or in Greece, which is allegedly evidenced by the possibility that the European arrest warrant may have already expired. Musatov explained that:

“The Greek Supreme Court’s judge completely ignores the work of lawyers who cannot even file a petition. She does not give them an opportunity to speak or do it. After observing this situation, Alexander realized that he would either get a fair trial or die. If there is no fair trial, he will inevitably be deported to the United States through France, where he will get something close to a life sentence, which equals death.”

Musatov went on to clarify that Vinnik decided to begin his hunger strike during the November 19 court session that ended in his postponed extradition. During the session, Musatov stated that the Greek lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou “openly” admitted “that the court would not treat any citizen of an EU member country or Greece as it treats Alexander just because he is a Russian national.” It’s unclear under what circumstances Vinnik would end his hunger strike.

The hunger strike is another wrinkle in the very long and strange post-arrest story surrounding Vinnik, which includes a foiled assassination attempt, “confession letters,” and a steadfast maintaining of his innocence. 

Nicholas Ruggieri studied English with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not quoting Vines at anyone who’s willing to listen, you’ll find him listening to too many podcasts, reading too many books, and crocheting too many sweaters for his dogs, RT and Peterman.

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