Alleged Bitcoin Launderer Vinnik Announces Hunger Strike to ‘Get a Fair Trial’

The lawyer for Alexander Vinnik, the alleged former operator of defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, said his defendant will go on a hunger strike this Monday, Russian state-owned news outlet TASS reported Nov. 23.

According to Timofey Musatov, the head of the lawyers representing Vinnik, the reason given for the hunger strike is that “he [Vinnik] was stripped of the right for defense in France and, consequently, in Greece.” The lawyer also noted that “it became clear that the [French-issued] European arrest warrant expired.”

In 2017, Greece’s supreme court ruled to extradite Vinnik to the U.S., where he faces charges of money laundering and fraud. In June, a Greek court ruled to extradite Vinnik to France. The Greek Supreme Court discussed Vinnik’s extradition to France on Nov. 19, but postponed the ruling to Nov. 29, as TASS reports.

According to TASS, Musatov also accuses the judge of the Greek Supreme Court of ignoring him and his team:

“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.”

The lawyer stated that “[i]f 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.”

He then further clarified Vinnik’s reasoning stating that “after observing this situation, Alexander realized that he would either get a fair trial or die.”

The head of the team of lawyers also explained that his defendant “understood that he does not have any other options and decided to go on a hunger strike on Monday in protest against this situation.”

According to Musatov, Vinnik came to this conclusion when his Greek lawyer, Zoe Konstantopoulou, “openly” said during the Nov. 19 court session that “the court would not treat any citizen of an E.U. member country or Greece as it treats Alexander just because he is a Russian national.”

As Cointelegraph reported this week, Konstantopoulou is also accusing the Greek Supreme Court of violating her defendant’s rights by failing to provide translations of court documents at his request.