French lawyer asks Russian Patriarch to help save Alexander Vinnik from ‘Political Trial’ in the US

A member of the defense team of alleged BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik called on the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to intervene to assist his client. The Russian man could be sentenced to more than 50 years in prison for his role in the notorious cryptocurrency exchange.

Prisoner exchange for Americans detained in Russia is Vinnik’s only chance to return home, lawyer says

Frederic Belot, the French lawyer who has represented Russian crypto businessman and alleged money launderer Alexander Vinnik in the courts for many years, has written to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia with his request. asked for help getting his client back home.

“The Vinnik case against the United States is not a legal case, but a political trial,” the lawyer said in the letter, quoted by Russia’s Tass news agency. In the US, he could face more than 50 years in prison, Belot warned, emphasizing:

Now, the only thing that can save Alexander is his exchange, among other Russians, for American citizens imprisoned in Russia.

Belot refers to the case of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. This isn’t the first time he’s suggested this solution. In early September, lawyers urged Moscow to include Vinnik in negotiations over a potential prisoner swap with Washington, citing Vinnik’s poor health following his time in solitary confinement in France and a hunger strike in France. Greek.

In his speech to Kirill, Frederic Belot pointed out that Vinnik was an “orthodox Christian” and added that “believing that the truth will eventually work out helped him to endure loneliness, isolation, and loneliness.” family, the death of his wife and the terrible injustice against the authorities of some countries. “

The French defense also noticed violations of Vinnik’s rights after he was detained in Greece and extradited to France, and then to the United States. The Russian was arrested while on vacation in Thessaloniki in July 2017 by order of the United States, where he allegedly laundered $4 to $9 billion through the now defunct BTC-e.

In December 2019, Greek authorities returned him to France, where a year later he was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering. In early August, after serving his sentence in France, Vinnik was returned to Greece and immediately transferred to the United States.

Over the years, Russia has also sought his extradition on charges of embezzlement and “fraud in the field of computer information” totaling more than $12 million, but Moscow’s demands were not granted. favorable. Vinnik himself, who is suspected of collaborating with Russian intelligence, has previously stated his intention to stand trial in Russia.

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