A lawyer part of the defense team of Alexander Vinnik has reached out to the Russian Orthodox Church, asking them to intervene on behalf of his client.
The Russian national is the alleged operator of the BTC-e crypto exchange and could be sentenced to 50 years in jail for the part he played in the fiasco.
The French attorney, Frederic Belot, has been representing the alleged money launderer and Russian crypto entrepreneur, Alexander Vinnik in his case for years.
The lawyer has now called upon Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of Russia and requested them to help his client return to his homeland.
The letter penned by the attorney said that the United States was treating the case as a political trial and not a legal one.
Belot warned that Vinnik might be sent to prison for 50 years in the United States and he added that the only way to save him was in exchange for other American citizens who are imprisoned in Russia.
He also said that other Russian prisoners could also be exchanged, referring to the cases of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.
It is not the first time that the lawyer has presented this solution.
The lawyer had asked Moscow in early September to consider Vinnik in negotiations with Washington for a potential prisoner swap.
He had highlighted that during his time in Greece, Vinnik’s health had suffered greatly because he had gone on a hunger strike and, in France, he had to spend time in solitary confinement.
In the letter to Kirill, the French attorney said that Vinnik is an Orthodox Christian.
He added that the crypto entrepreneur had been able to survive loneliness, the death of his wife, separation from his family, and the monstrous injustice carried out by the authorities of several nations because he believed truth will prevail.
Violation of rights
Berlot also highlighted the violation of Vinnik’s rights that had occurred in Greece after he had been detained and extradited to France, from where he was extradited to the US.
The Russian had been arrested in July 2017 in Thessaloniki when he had been on vacation and the warrant for his arrest was issued by the United States.
Vinnik had been accused of laundering funds between $4 and $9 billion through the BTC-e exchange that has now become defunct.
He had been handed over to the French authorities by their Greek counterparts in December 2019 where he was handed a five-year prison sentence for money laundering.
After he served his sentence, the French authorities returned him to Greece in August from where he was extradited to the United States.
During these years, Russia has also attempted his extradition over charges of fraud and embezzlement of more than $12 million, but the requests had not been granted.
Vinnik has been suspected of collaborating with Russian intelligence and he himself has stated that he wanted to appear in a court in Russia.