Over 100 former federal agents, prosecutors call on heightened efforts to release crypto exec. imprisoned in Nigeria

by | Jun 7, 2024

A group of over 100 former federal prosecutors and agents has called on Secretary of State Tony Blinken to intensify efforts to secure the release of Tigran Gambaryan, a crypto executive currently imprisoned in Nigeria.

 

This appeal comes on the heels of a similar request from 16 members of Congress, increasing pressure on the State Department.

Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and head of financial crime compliance at Binance, previously served as a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service. He was detained in Nigeria after traveling there in response to accusations that Binance contributed to a crash of the local currency. Upon arrival, Gambaryan was arrested and charged with tax evasion and money laundering.

Supporters, including former colleagues who signed the letter, argue that Gambaryan is a scapegoat at best and a political prisoner at worst. Many signatories have worked with him on high-profile investigations, such as those involving drug trafficking and child pornography. Nigerian officials, however, have defended their actions.

The letter highlights that Gambaryan is being held in a prison notorious for housing Nigeria's most dangerous criminals and has been denied adequate medical care, despite collapsing in court, possibly due to malaria. It states, “A former U.S. federal agent has been effectively held hostage in deplorable conditions for nearly three months by a foreign power in an apparent attempt to compel his employer to settle a matter that does not implicate him.”

The effort to secure Gambaryan's release is spearheaded by Katie Haun, a former federal prosecutor and current crypto venture capitalist, as part of a broader coalition.

 

Read the letter here.

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