UPDATE - Russian National Vinnik Ready To Answer Questions In French Court - Lawyer

PARIS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th October, 2020) Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, accused of money laundering, wants to be heard and understood during the trial, which began in Paris on Monday, his lawyer Frederic Belot said.

"He very clearly told the court that he was ready to answer questions, while during the investigation, on the advice of lawyers, he remained silent. And today he fully expresses his position," Belot told reporters following the first day of the court sitting.

During a hearing on Monday, Vinnik said he had nothing to do with the Locky malware, which inflicted damage upon 200 individuals and companies. The Russian denied all charges against him of extortion and money laundering through the BTC-e cryptocurrency platform. He also noted that he was only an operator on the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange.

Vinnik told the court that he had no professional education, but "has computer knowledge." He answered in the negative when the judge asked whether he could create a computer program.

"Alexander Vinnik made it very clear that he did not know anything about the Locky virus before arriving in France, before being questioned by an investigator... He tried to work as an operator on BTC-e," the lawyer said.

Speaking about the psychological status of his client, Belot said Vinnik was depressed because he was unable to see his family.

"He is afraid that he will be convicted, because he could face 10 to 20 years in prison in France. In addition, there is an arrest warrant in the United States, where he faces about 50 years in prison. Therefore, of course, these hearings are extremely important for him. His fate will be decided at them. He really wants to be heard and understood by the court. In this regard, he often asks the court to clarify questions, because he is afraid to answer incorrectly," the lawyer said.

Hearings in the Vinnik case will last until October 22.

Vinnik was arrested in Greece on July 25, 2017 at the request of the United States, where he is accused of violating American law and creating, without a license from the US authorities, a cryptocurrency exchange, through which, according to Washington, billions of Dollars were being laundered.

Russia is also seeking Vinnik's extradition, and at the end of June 2018, France sent a similar request to the Greek authorities. Paris accuses Vinnik of being engaged in extortion and money laundering in France as part of a criminal group in 2016-2018. Since January 23, Vinnik has been in France, where he was extradited from Greece.