Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has suspended a decision by the country’s justice minister to extradite Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik to France until it hears his appeal. Mr Vinnik is alleged to have been involved in the laundering of billions of dollars in cryptocurrency.
Mr Vinnik was first arrested in Greece in July 2017 with Russia, France and the US all seeking his extradition. The Russian extradition request related to lesser charges, unrelated to the alleged money laundering. The issuing of competing extradition requests is an increasingly common tactic employed by the Russian authorities in an attempt to have citizens returned to Russia, rather than risking intelligence breaches by allowing their extradition to the US or elsewhere.
The earlier decision of Greece’s justice minister to allow Mr Vinnik’s extradition to France, also noted that the US should be his second destination and Russia his last. Thus, upon conclusion of the legal proceedings against him in France, Mr Vinnik could face extradition to the US, an outcome his legal team has referred to as a “death sentence”.
Mr Vinnik reportedly embarked on a renewed hunger strike following the ministerial decision and his lawyer has expressed concern about his health.
The next hearing in Mr Vinnik’s case is scheduled for 10 January 2010 and will be heard by an expanded panel of judges in recognition of the “extraordinary importance” of the case.