Vinnik extradited to France secretly as lawyers cry foul

Alexander Vinnik has been extradited to France and is currently admitted to a French hospital. This is according to his lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou. In a recent interview, she claimed that the Greek authorities had extradited him without informing his legal team and while he was in a sickly and weak state. Konstantopoulou criticized the authorities, describing the extradition as a kidnap since even Vinnik was unaware of where he was being taken.

After 30 months in Greek custody, Vinnik has been on the spotlight in the last few days, with Russia and Greece in a fight over which country should have him first. The Greek Minister for Justice had ruled that Vinnik be extradited to France first, then the U.S and lastly Russia. This decision angered Russia and immediately led to an appeal.

The appeal was rejected Thursday, with Greek’s highest court upholding the Minister’s decision. Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported that the court believes that extraditing Vinnik to Russia would undermine the process, as the country is unlikely to release him to face charges in France and the U.S. The court further claimed that it believes the Greek authorities haven’t violated Vinnik’s rights in any way.

However, according to Konstantopoulou, the authorities have acted against a court decision that protected Vinnik against the extradition. In an interview with Russian state-run television network RT, she claimed that Vinnik was extradited even before the court had backed the Minister’s ruling.

She stated, “This means basically that mechanisms have been conspiring underground, totally ignoring international law, human rights law and the legal procedures, totally ignoring democratic guarantees. […] What has been happening in Alexander’s case is unthinkable.”

RT showed a letter written by Vinnik in which he accused Greek authorities of using torture on him. Part of the letter stated, “They’re trying to use torture and psychological pressure to break me. They do not allow me to breathe fresh air. The last time they let me out for a walk for a few minutes was on New Year’s Eve.”

Konstantopoulou further claimed that she is in contact with a colleague in France to assist her in handling Vinnik’s case. She has also filed documents seeking to stop French authorities from interrogating him while he is in the hospital. Allegedly, Vinnik has been on hunger strike for over a month now and thus, he is quite weak at the moment.

The lawyer, who has previously served as the president of the Greek parliament, has also reached out to the UN Working Group Against Arbitrary Detention asking for its intervention.

And while the U.S accuses Vinnik of laundering over $4 billion through the BTC-e crypto exchange, Konstantopoulou insists that he is not a criminal. She stated, “Alexander is not a criminal […] His crime is his technical knowledge, his knowhow, his ability through the internet and through his skills to liberate people economically through Bitcoin.”

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