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Moscow Seeks Extradition From Greece Of Russian Cybercrime Suspect Wanted By U.S.

Aleksandr Vinnik is escorted by plainclothes police officers to a court in Thessaloniki in July.
Aleksandr Vinnik is escorted by plainclothes police officers to a court in Thessaloniki in July.

Russia has requested the extradition of a Russian cybercrime suspect who was arrested in Greece at the request of the United States, his lawyer and a Greek judicial official say.

Aleksandr Vinnik's lawyer, Xanthippe Moyssidou, told the Associated Press news agency that his client told the Greek authorities on September 19 that he would not contest Moscow's extradition request.

Vinnik is wanted in Russia on fraud charges totaling $11,000, AFP quoted a judicial official as saying on condition of anonymity.

Vinnik was arrested in the Greek tourist resort of Halkidiki on July 26 at the request of U.S. law enforcement officials, who accuse him of running a $4 billion money-laundering scheme using the virtual currency Bitcoin.

The U.S. Justice Department said in its indictment that Vinnik, who is also known by the nickname Sasha Vemye, was the operator of BTC-e, a currency exchange used to trade the digital currency since 2011.

According to U.S. authorities, Vinnik "stole identities, facilitated drug trafficking, and helped to launder criminal proceeds from syndicates around the world."

In addition, BTC-e "was noted for its role in numerous ransomware and other cybercriminal activity."

U.S. officials alleged that Vinnik and BTC-e obtained funds from a Japan-based Bitcoin exchange that collapsed in 2014 after being hacked.

A sizeable portion of the funds stolen from the exchange, known as Mt Gox, were deposited in accounts controlled, owned, and operated by BTC-e and Vinnik, according to the indictment

The Treasury Department has fined BTC-e $110 million for "willfully violating" U.S. anti-money-laundering laws, and Vinnik $12 million.

Vinnik is the latest Russian citizen to be accused by the United States of cyber-related crimes, arrested in third countries, and then subjected to extradition proceedings.

Moscow has complained vociferously that U.S. officials were "kidnapping" Russian citizens abroad.

Greece's judiciary will now have to decide whether to extradite Vinnik to Moscow or Washington.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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