The alleged operator of the infamous BTC-e exchange, Alexander Vinnik, has terminated his hunger strike more than 80 days after he started the protest against his detention in Greece. Vinnik’s condition is serious and he needs specialized medical attention to recuperate.
Russia’s Ombudsman Visits Vinnik in Hospital
The Russian-born IT specialist took the decision to temporarily stop the hunger strike after meeting with Russia’s ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova. She visited him on Thursday in a Greek hospital, where he is placed under doctors’ care, and later shared the news with journalists.
Moskalkova told Russian media that Vinnik looks absolutely exhausted by the hunger strike and requires professional medical care. “From the last conclusion of the doctors in February, it is quite clear that he needs emergency help, otherwise he may die,” she warned.
Alexander Vinnik has been in detention since July 2017 when he was arrested in Thessaloniki on a U.S. warrant. Prosecutors in the United States believe he is one of the owners of BTC-e and accuse him of laundering between $4 billion and $9 billion through the crypto trading platform, including funds presumed stolen in the Mt Gox hack.
The Russian national went on hunger strike on Nov. 26, 2018 to protest prison conditions and violations of his rights to a fair trial as well as what he believes is an unlawful detention. The Greek constitution states that citizens should not be in preliminary detention for more than one year. As an exception, the court may extend the period by another six months.
Vinnik Kept in Prison Longer Than the Law Allows
Alexander Vinnik has been in prison for 18 months, waiting for the decision of the Greek judiciary on three extradition requests. Besides the Unites States, he is also wanted in his native Russia and in France, where he is accused of various other crimes.
Quoted in a press release, Tatyana Moskalkova promised to work with the Greek Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Healthcare towards his return to the Russian Federation. She believes there are both legal and moral grounds for such a decision.
“Firstly, because he is a Russian citizen, and secondly, because there’s a criminal case against him that’s being investigated in Russia. It is impossible to complete it with a fair decision if he is in another country,” Russia’s human rights commissioner said.
Another possible violation was exposed by Russian media in January. Greece has handed the U.S. phones and computers confiscated from Vinnik after his arrest, RIA Novosti reported, quoting documents issued by the prosecutor’s office in Thessaloniki. That happened despite a decision by the Supreme Court in Athens that the data storing devices, which were later returned to Greece, can be transferred only in the case of an extradition.
Where do you think Alexander Vinnik should be extradited? Share your thoughts on his case in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, High Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia.
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Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Bulgaria, which sometimes finds itself at the forefront of advances it cannot easily afford. Quoting Hitchens, he says: ”Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.“ International politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.