France joins US, Russia, asks Greece for cybercrime suspect

June 27, 2018 - 3:55 pm
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THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — France has joined the United States and Russia in seeking the extradition of a Russian cybercrime suspect who was arrested in northern Greece last summer.

Greek authorities said France wants to put Alexander Vinnik on trial for alleged cybercrime, money laundering, membership in a criminal organization and extortion.

Vinnik, a former bitcoin platform operator, is being held in a prison in northern Greece pending a final decision on the first two extradition requests. He denies wrongdoing. Vinnik, 38, appeared before a Thessaloniki prosecutor Wednesday following the request from France.

French authorities allege that Vinnik remained in charge of his bitcoin platform even while incarcerated in Greece and that it was used to facilitate cyberfraud attacks that targeted thousands of people worldwide, including about a hundred French nationals.

The Greek Supreme Court has approved Vinnik's extradition to the United States to stand trial for allegedly laundering billions of dollars using bitcoin, a virtual currency. Vinnik had fought that decision.

But another court ruled for his extradition to Russia on less serious charges — which Vinnik is not contesting.

Vinnik is fighting the French extradition, too, court authorities said Wednesday.

His lawyer, Ilias Spyrliadis, said the three competing extradition bids made for a highly complex situation.

"A legal issue that will require our attention is which (extradition request) will have priority, as they are based on two international arrest warrants and one European arrest warrant," he said.

Greece's justice minister has the final word on the extradition requests based on international warrants. However, the Supreme Court has final jurisdiction on the French bid, as it is based on a European warrant.

Greek authorities have rejected a request for asylum from Vinnik, who on Wednesday appealed the decision.

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