BTC-e founder accused of money laundering seeks to be freed in prisoner swap
Alexander Vinnik intends to lobby for his inclusion in a prisoner exchange.
BTC-e co-founder Alexander Vinnik aims to be released through a prisoner swap, The Wall Street Journal reported May 24.
Vinnik seeks to be released by U.S.
A lawyer argued in court that Vinnik should be allowed to respond to accusations and advocate for his inclusion in a prisoner exchange.
Vinnik is a Russian citizen currently being held in the United States. The U.S. was reportedly willing to trade Vinnik for U.S. women’s pro basketball player Brittney Griner, who was previously held in Russia on drug charges. However, Griner was ultimately freed in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in 2022.
The U.S. Department of Justice originally charged Vinnik in 2017 when it alleged that he had engaged in money laundering. The agency also said that Vinnik’s exchange, BTC-e, aided ransomware attacks, identity theft schemes, and drug trafficking.
BTC-e, which was founded in 2011, was seized and halted by U.S. authorities in July 2017 when they arrested several staff members at the exchange.
Vinnik pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges and denied having control over the exchange’s direction, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Previous detention in Europe
Despite the fact that the United States announced charges against Vinnik years ago, he was not extradited to the U.S. until August 2022.
Vinnik was first arrested in Greece in 2017 at the request of the U.S. He was then extradited to France in 2020, where he was cleared of ransomware charges but convicted on money laundering charges. He was sentenced to five years in prison in France.
Russia also submitted unsuccessful extradition requests during Vinnik’s detainment.