Temporary win for Russian Federation in bid for bitcoin suspect

Greece's justice minister will make the final call whether he will be handed over to the USA or Russian Federation.

A Thessaloniki appeals court on Wednesday approved a request from Moscow for the extradition of a Russian national who is also wanted in the U.S. in connection with charges that he laundered 4 billion dollars in bitcoins. In Russia, Vinnik is accused of a 667,000-ruble ($11,500) fraud.

"When both requests from two different countries are accepted (in court), like in this case, it's up to the Justice Minister to decide which request to comply with", said Xanthippe Moissidou, one of Vinnik's lawyers.

Vinnik said Wednesday he wants to be extradited to Russia, where the government has said it should get priority over the USA because he is a Russian citizen. He has appealed his USA extradition, and Greece's Supreme Court is expected to rule on that appeal in coming weeks.

Vinnik denies all allegations but is reportedly willing to be tried in Russian Federation on lesser fraud charges.

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The latest ruling extends a legal tug-of-war between Russian Federation and the United States over Vinnik, 37, who was arrested in July during a holiday in Greece following a USA request. Vinnik, 38, appealed against that ruling to the Supreme Court.

Vinnik was indicted by a USA grand jury in July on an array of charges that include money laundering, identity theft, and facilitating drug trafficking.

United States authorities accuse Vinnik of laundering 4 billion dollars' worth of bitcoins through BTC-e, one of the world's largest digital currency exchanges, which he allegedly operated.

He faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted on the US charges.

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