Montenegro high court greenlights Do Kwon’s extradition to US

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Montenegro’s High Court has decid­ed to extra­dite for­mer cryp­to mag­nate Do Kwon to the US instead of his home coun­try, South Korea, local media report­ed on Feb. 21.

The deci­sion marks a piv­otal turn in the inter­na­tion­al legal saga sur­round­ing Kwon, the founder of Ter­raform Labs, who faces charges relat­ed to finan­cial crimes in both coun­tries. The time­line for his extra­di­tion is unclear and could take sev­er­al weeks or months to finalize.

Extra­di­tion process­es can vary in length and com­plex­i­ty, depend­ing on the legal frame­works, the coop­er­a­tion between the involved coun­tries, and any poten­tial appeals or fur­ther legal actions that might be tak­en by the par­ties involved.

Giv­en the high-pro­file nature of Kwon’s case and the involve­ment of mul­ti­ple juris­dic­tions, it’s like­ly that the extra­di­tion process will be close­ly mon­i­tored and sub­ject to strict pro­ce­dures to ensure its legal­i­ty and fairness.

Political considerations

The appel­late court had pre­vi­ous­ly direct­ed the High Court to deter­mine whether Kwon would be extra­dit­ed to South Korea or the US, as both states had made offi­cial requests. While ini­tial rul­ings con­firmed the eli­gi­bil­i­ty for Kwon’s extra­di­tion, the deci­sion on where to send him was left to Jus­tice Min­is­ter Andrej Milović.

How­ev­er, the appel­late court lat­er over­turned the rul­ing and clar­i­fied that the Jus­tice Minister’s deci­sion-mak­ing role only applies in reg­u­lar extra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings. Since Kwon con­sent­ed to extra­di­tion in a fast-track process, the final deci­sion fell to the court.

Kwon’s defense, led by attor­ney Goran Rodić, had argued for his client’s extra­di­tion to South Korea based on legal grounds, includ­ing the Euro­pean Extra­di­tion Con­ven­tion, a bilat­er­al agree­ment with Amer­i­ca, and Montenegro’s law on inter­na­tion­al legal assistance.

Despite these argu­ments, the court has decid­ed to extra­dite Kwon to the US, reflect­ing deep­er polit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, as Milović pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed that the US is Montenegro’s main for­eign pol­i­cy partner.

Fake documents

The saga began when Kwon and his asso­ciate Han Chang Jun were arrest­ed in March last year at Pod­gor­i­ca Air­port, attempt­ing to fly to Dubai with fake Cos­ta Rican passports.

Fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion revealed they also pos­sessed Bel­gian trav­el doc­u­ments, which they claimed to have obtained through an agency in Sin­ga­pore for glob­al travel.

Dur­ing the court pro­ceed­ings in Pod­gor­i­ca, Kwon explained that the Bel­gian pass­ports had incor­rect names and birth­dates, so they opt­ed to use the Cos­ta Rican pass­ports to trav­el instead.

Kwon fur­ther claimed that he was unaware that the Cos­ta Rican pass­ports were fake as the issu­ing agency had seemed legitimate.

He said his trust in the issu­ing agency was based on pre­vi­ous suc­cess­ful appli­ca­tions, includ­ing a denied request for Grena­da pass­ports but an approved one for Cos­ta Rica, which built their con­fi­dence in the agency’s reliability.

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