Russian lobbies to be part of potential prisoner swap for Evan Gershkovich, Paul Whelan

Washington – A Russian money laundering suspect is lobbying to join a potential prisoner swap between the United States and Russia, a court filing reveals.

Alexander VanekA Russian national who allegedly laundered billions of dollars through an illegal cryptocurrency exchange was extradited from Greece to California in August, where he remains in custody.

Bitcoin cybercrime accused in Thessaloniki courts on Russian extradition request
FILE: Russian bitcoin fraud suspect Alexander Vinnik arrives at a courthouse in Thessaloniki to examine a Russian extradition request for the suspect in Russia on October 11, 2017, in Thessaloniki, Greece.

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Vanek was arrested in Greece at the request of the United States in 2017, later extradited to France, where he was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison. He returned to Greece after serving his sentence, then was extradited to the United States.

In a May 19 court filing, Winnick’s attorney argued to modify the protective order on his case to expedite efforts to include him in any potential prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia.

“Mr. Winnick should be allowed to respond to the allegations against him and publicly advocate for his involvement in the prisoner exchange,” his lawyer wrote. “It appears most likely that the Justice Department opposes allowing Mr. Wenk to discuss the case because he opposes a prisoner exchange and does not want to see him returned to Russia.”

The filing said the U.S. had previously offered to trade Winnick. WNBA star Brittany Griner, “But the exchange took a different turn.” Gurner, who was convicted of drug charges in Russia, was released in December in a prisoner swap that sent the convict. Russian arms dealer Victor Bot is back. to Russia.

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FILE – Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, who was allegedly arrested on espionage charges, hears a verdict in a courtroom at Moscow City Court on June 15, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.

Sofia Sundarskaya/AP

The US is still seeking the release of Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage, and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in March on espionage charges. The US says that the accusations leveled against him are baseless and he believes them. Wrongfully detained.

Russian-American journalist
FILE: US journalist Ivan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, stands in the defendant’s cage before a hearing to consider an appeal against his arrest in Moscow’s city court on April 18, 2023.

Natalia Kolsenkova/AFP/Getty

“Several individuals with knowledge of the prisoner exchange negotiations have informed defense counsel that it is important that Mr. Winnick and his defense team publicly negotiate the terms of the exchange to maximize the chances of such an exchange. I advocate for their inclusion,” the court filing said.

Venk’s lawyer said “discussions are ongoing between the two countries” about a possible prisoner exchange.

The Wall Street Journal Reported earlier Upon filing in court.

The US has given few details about its negotiations with Russia as it seeks the release of Whelan and Grishkovich.

Earlier this week, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller declined to say whether Russia has acted on a “serious proposal”. Secretary of State Antony Blanken offered Whelan’s release. Blanken said in March that the United States had made an offer and urged Moscow to accept it.

“We’ve often found that it’s not conducive to our efforts — to repatriate wrongful detainees — to talk about the details of those efforts,” Miller said.

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