Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, on Thursday visited Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, who stays at Santa Rita Prison in Dublin.
According to Antonov, he was not allowed to speak to Vinnik through a ‘contact meeting’, they were separated by the glass while talking.
“At the last stage we got permission and support from the White House and we got written permission for a contact meeting, that is, I say again, without the glass, so that we could shake hands with our compatriot. Now that did not happen, we had a very difficult conversation and it was very uncomfortable for our compatriot: he was sitting practically bent over, because the wire on the phone was very small, and the head of the consular department and I took turns passing the phone to each other,” the diplomat said.
Antonov said that Moscow would seek better detention conditions for Vinnik.
“We will demand from the authorities to treat our compatriot better. Look, if you remember former [US ambassador to Russia Jake] Sullivan, no one prevented him from meeting either [Brittney] Griner or [Paul] Whelan, there were no such obstacles as were posed to us today,” Antonov added.
The ambassador went on to say that the Russian side would send notes to the US State Department to express a ‘negative attitude to colleagues from the White House’ due to the incident.
So far, the US side has made no official comments in response to Anatoly Antonov’s statements.
Russian information technology specialist Alexander Vinnik was detained in Greece on 25 July 2017 at the request of the US, where he is accused of laundering between $4 billion and $9 billion (4-9 billion EUR) through the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.
Following a decision by Greek Justice Minister Costas Tsiaras, Vinnik was extradited first to France and then to the US. In December 2020, the Paris Criminal Court found the Russian man guilty of aggravated money laundering and sentenced him to five years in prison and a fine.
Vinnik was taken from France to Greece in early August after he was sent by prisoner transport to the United States. The Federal Court for the Northern District of California will start hearing Winnick’s case on the merits on 16 December. The maximum sentence on the US charges against Vinnik is 55 years in prison.
In Russia, Vinnik is also charged with embezzlement of more than 600,000 RUB (7,333 EUR; 7,321 USD) and ‘computer information fraud’ worth 750,000 RUB (9,167 EUR; 9,152 USD). The Russian said he was ready to return home and face a Russian court.