Attorney for Russian accused of income laundering asks for client to be included in US-Russia prisoner swap negotiations


A attorney for a Russian person accused of money laundering who was extradited to the US last thirty day period has lobbied Moscow to incorporate his customer in prisoner exchange negotiations with the US governing administration.

The “only point that can save” Alexander Vinnik, who US authorities allege ran a $4 billion cryptocurrency exchange that did enterprise with ransomware gangs, is if the Russian governing administration negotiates a prisoner swap with the US, Frédéric Bélot, Vinnik’s lawyer in France, explained in a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov acquired by CNN.

The appeal arrives as the Biden administration continues to check out to protected the launch of many Us citizens detained or imprisoned in Russia, which includes WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine several years in prison for carrying cannabis oil by means of a Moscow airport.

The Biden administration has available to trade convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout as component of a probable deal to safe the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, an American who has been held in Russia for alleged espionage since 2018, CNN described in July. US officers say they are even now making an attempt to get the People in america produced, however no breakthrough has transpired in current weeks.

Requested Tuesday irrespective of whether there had been dialogue between US and Russian officers about like Vinnik in a prisoner swap, Point out Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel explained he would not publicly focus on specifics of the negotiations.

“The US federal government carries on to urge Russia to launch wrongfully detained folks Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” Patel claimed at a press briefing.

“Our governments have communicated regularly and directly” on a proposal put forward by the US to free the two Individuals, Patel said.

CNN has requested remark from the Russian overseas ministry on Bélot’s letter to Lavrov.

Reuters first described on the letter.

US prosecutors experienced for a long time been in an extradition battle with Russian authorities above Vinnik, who was arrested in Greece and subsequently extradited to France, in which he was sentenced to 5 years in jail in 2020 for dollars laundering. The Justice Department ultimately received its attraction to apprehend Vinnik, who built his original courtroom visual appeal in the Northern District of California on August 5.

Vinnik is accused of running a cryptocurrency exchange recognized as BTC-e that allegedly did organization with drug dealers and different cybercriminals this sort of as id robbers.

Vinnik maintains his innocence, according to Bélot, who signifies the 42-calendar year-old Russian gentleman in France. CNN has requested comment from David Rizk, a general public defender whom court information listing as Vinnik’s legal professional in the Northern District of California.

The Russian governing administration, by way of its embassies and consulates in the US, usually pays near awareness to the trials of accused Russian cybercriminals. And Vinnik is much from the 1st Russian whom the Kremlin has questioned a different federal government to extradite soon after US prosecutors filed their individual extradition request.

Aleksei Burkov, who US authorities accused of managing an on the net forum for “elite cybercriminals,” was extradited to the US from Israel in 2019 in excess of Moscow’s fierce objections. Burkov was sentenced to nine yrs in US jail in 2020 but was finally deported to Russia in September 2021. A Justice Section spokesperson declined to remark on the information of the situation then, but clarified that Burkov’s deportation “was not a [prisoner] trade.”

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