Do Kwon, currently in custody in Montenegro and potentially awaiting extradition to the United States or South Korea, will reportedly face harsh conditions in the country’s penal system.
According to a March 29 Protos report, an unnamed criminal defense lawyer said conditions at Montenegro’s jails and prisons “haven’t changed” from those described in a 2020 human rights report by the United States State Department. The report cited a case in which prison officers had been convicted of torturing and “inflicting grievous bodily harm” on 11 inmates in 2015, as well as other “poor” conditions in some of Montenegro’s prisons due to overcrowding and lack of medical care.
Citing reports from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the State Department said many prisoners had been confined to overcrowded cells for roughly 23 hours a day, with some reports of violence between inmates. Kwon could be facing “at least a year” in such conditions as Montenegro considers extradition requests, depending on the outcome of his criminal case over allegedly forged travel documents.
“Rooms are 8 meters squared and very crowded,” the lawyer reportedly said. “There’s about 10 to 11 people in a room — there’s usually not even a bed.“
Kwon, whose whereabouts had largely been unknown following the collapse of Terra in May 2022, was detained at the Podgorica airport in Montenegro on March 23, after which time authorities confirmed his identity. The country’s Ministry of Justice announced on March 29 that both the United States and South Korean had made extradition requests for the Terra co-founder, but he could first face criminal charges in Montenegro.
At the time of publication, it’s unclear whether South Korea or the U.S. will be able to gain custody of Kwon, a South Korean national. The situation echoes that of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who was in the Bahamas at the time of the exchange’s collapse and held in a detention facility with reported cases of physical abuse against prisoners and harsh conditions. Bankman-Fried is currently on bail in the U.S. while he awaits trial.