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Greece to Extradite Russian Bitcoin Suspect to France

Greece's justice ministry has decided to extradite to France Russian Alexander Vinnik, who allegedly headed the bitcoin exchange BTC-e, on suspicion of money laundering, a ministry source said Friday.

No other details were forthcoming on when Vinnik would be sent to France.

Vinnik, 40, had gone on hunger strike last year to prevent his extradition, and is prepared to resume his protest, his lawyer Zoe Constantopoulou said.

The French warrant says Vinnik defrauded more than 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.

Also sought by the US and Russia, Vinnik has been in Greek custody since his arrest in July 2017 in the tourist resort of Halkidiki.

Separate Greek court decisions had previously approved the extradition requests of all three countries.

The final decision was up to the justice ministry.

In a series of tweets, the Russian embassy in Athens said it was "saddened" that its request for its own extradition request to have priority was "ignored."

Vinnik wanted to be extradited to Russia, where he is wanted on lesser fraud charges.

His wife and two children live there, and his lawyers claim that his life would be in danger if he were extradited to France or the US.

But Greek justice minister Costas Tsiaras had on Thursday signed an order satisfying France's request first, followed by those of the US and Russia, the ministry source said Friday.

BTC-e, founded in 2011, became one of the world's largest and most widely used digital currency exchanges.

According to the US indictment, BTC-e is also suspected of having played a role in online extortion and other cyber-crimes.

Vinnik denies the charges.

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