Basketball star for crypto laundry? Alexander Vinnik’s lawyers consider prisoner exchange: Report

The legal team of Alexander Vinnik, a Russian citizen who was recently extradited to the United States, has been calling on authorities to consider a prisoner swap in its action against crypto exchange BTC-e.

According to a Reuters report on Monday, the lawyer representing Vinnik called on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to negotiate with US authorities and demand the repatriation of the alleged Bitcoin (BTC) counterfeiter. Russian authorities have detained several American citizens on suspicion of espionage, including basketball star Brittany Griner, teacher Mark Hilliard Fogel and ex-Marine Paul Whelan.

“The only thing that can save Alexander is for the Russian Federation to enter into negotiations with the US authorities within the framework of the exchange of prisoners between the mentioned countries,” said the letter of Vinnynik’s lawyer Frederic Belot.

In his role at BTC-e, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges at the time, Vinnyk allegedly helped launder nearly $4 billion worth of bitcoins, some of which may have gone to Japan-based crypto exchange Mt. Gox is a hack. Greek authorities arrested Vinnik in July 2017, while the governments of France, Russia and the United States fought for his extradition.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that Vinnik was extradited from Greece to the United States on August 4 to face charges of unauthorized financial services business, money laundering, wiretapping and money laundering. According to authorities, BTC-e “facilitated transactions for cybercriminals around the world and received criminal proceeds from numerous computer hacking and hacking incidents,” including ransomware attacks and drug trafficking.

Vinnik, 43, faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Griner has been in custody since her arrest in February, with many US officials suggesting the Russian government may be using the basketball star as political leverage for sanctions imposed following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Related: ‘Cryptoqueen’ accomplice Ruja Ignatova to be extradited to US: Report

In the year Russia is said to be engaging in “quiet diplomacy” with the US after Griner was sentenced to 9 years for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil at Sheremetyevo International Airport on August 4. “war” arms dealer Viktor Bout – and not Vinnik – for Griner and Whelan. Officials of the two countries negotiated the exchange of former US Marine Trevor Reed, who was convicted of drug trafficking during the Ukraine war in 2011, for Russian national Konstantin Yaroshenko.