Russian cybercrime suspect to be extradited to France despite Moscow's objections


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Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik will be extradited to France after a Greek court ruling Friday.

Vinnik, 38, has pleaded not guilty to charges of laundering $4 billion in bitcoin while running the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.

Although Vinnik was arrested under a U.S. warrant, Greek authorities will extradite him to France where he is charged with hacking, money laundering, extortion and involvement in organized crime.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the ruling and said the country will look to a response. Vinnik’s lawyer is filing a response, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

“Several days after taking an unfriendly decision to expel Russian diplomats and to deny entry to several Russian citizens, they have adopted a decision to extradite Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik to France,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement. “It is obvious that Russia cannot leave these actions unanswered.”

The decision marks the latest chapter in a months-long intense legal battle over Vinnik’s fate.

Vinnik is one of several Russian cybercriminal suspects who have been arrested outside their home country and extradited west over the loud objections of Moscow. Yevgeniy Nikulin, another alleged Russian hacker arrested in the Czech Republic last year, will begin his federal trial in the U.S. in January.

Russia previously warned the U.S. is “hunting” and “kidnapping” Russian citizens.

In Russia, Vinnik faces charges of $11,000 worth of fraud, a much smaller scale crime than what he faces in the west.

Greek authorities previously said Vinnik was “an internationally sought ‘mastermind’ of a crime organization.”The final decision sits with the Greek minister of justice, Stavros Kontonis.

Last week, Greece expelled two Russian diplomats for allegedly funding protests in Greece aimed to keep Macedonia from joining NATO.

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Alexander Vinnik, France, Greece, Russia