Former US Prosecutors Demand Action On Binance Exec's Detention In Nigeria

Former US Prosecutors Demand Action On Binance Exec's Detention In Nigeria

By: Eliza Bennet

A coalition of more than 100 former US federal prosecutors has called on the United States government to take swift action to secure the release of Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who has been detained in Nigeria since February. This appeal comes amid increasing diplomatic pressure from US lawmakers and other stakeholders who argue that Gambaryan is being held on false charges.

Gambaryan, the head of compliance at Binance, was detained alongside his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla after a contentious meeting with Nigerian government officials. While Anjarwalla managed to escape custody in March, Gambaryan remains imprisoned. The former prosecutors addressed a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, criticizing the US government's lack of intervention and warning of potentially dire consequences for Gambaryan. The letter read, "Tigran is now being held on false charges related to money laundering and tax evasion. He is completely innocent of these charges and, as a mid-tier employee at Binance, does not hold a role that makes him an appropriate stand-in for the company."

The group highlighted Gambaryan's extensive background in law enforcement, where he dealt with critical cases involving national security, terrorism financing, and identity theft. They assert his innocence, arguing that his detention aims to pressure Binance into settlements with the Nigerian government. The prosecutors emphasized that his conditions of imprisonment are "unjust and inhumane," noting that he is held at Kuje Prison alongside some of Nigeria's most dangerous criminals, including members of Boko Haram, with restricted access to legal counsel and family contact.

This appeal from former prosecutors aligns with increasing calls for diplomatic intervention. Shortly before this letter, several US lawmakers urged President Joe Biden to intervene, asserting that Gambaryan is wrongfully detained on baseless charges. The Nigerian government, however, maintains that due process is being followed in the ongoing legal proceedings. According to officials, Gambaryan and Binance will have the opportunity to defend themselves in court, with the next hearing scheduled for June 20.

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