igran Gambaryan, Binance's Global Head of Compliance, has been detained in Nigeria since late February without many of the basic rights granted to prisoners. His continued imprisonment appears aimed at pressuring Binance during negotiations with Nigerian authorities rather than due to credible criminal allegations. Concern over Gambaryan's treatment and lack of freedoms has intensified in recent weeks, with over 100 former US prosecutors recently demanding urgent action from the US government.

Binance logo on Nigerian logo
US Lawyers Appeal to Biden

Background to Gambaryan's Detention 

Gambaryan and another Binance employee, Nadeem Anjarwalla, were taken into custody by Nigerian officials in late February after meeting with regulators in the country. While Anjarwalla was later released, Gambaryan remains incarcerated without access to proper legal representation or communication with his family. Nigerian authorities have charged him and Binance with offshore banking without licenses, money laundering, and tax evasion based on the company's prior operations in the country before the crypto exchange suspended services due to a regulatory crackdown. However, critics argue these charges have no real basis and Gambaryan's continuing incarceration beyond what the law allows suggests he is being used to put leverage on Binance. 

Former Prosecutors Urge Urgent Action

In a June 6th letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, over 100 former US federal prosecutors expressed deep concern over Gambaryan's situation. They highlighted his long experience in US law enforcement working on significant national security and financial crime cases. The letter asserted Gambaryan's innocence of the trumped-up charges and called his treatment "unjust and inhumane," noting he has been detained in a prison known to house dangerous criminals without regular access to a lawyer or his family. 

The prosecutors warned of serious consequences if the US does not take more forceful action through diplomatic channels, emphasizing that Gambaryan's detention sets a worrying precedent and sends the wrong message about respect for the rule of law. As prominent legal experts, their intervention adds significant weight to calls for Gambaryan's swift release.

Growing Pressure on the Biden Administration 

The pressure on the US government to remedy the situation is intensifying. Earlier in the week, senior members of Congress wrote to President Biden regarding Gambaryan's plight, also arguing he is being wrongly and arbitrarily detained according to multiple human rights agreements Nigeria has signed. They stressed the US' moral authority to defend citizens mistreated abroad and demand fair treatment. 

The letters come amid wider concerns within the crypto industry that Nigeria risks damaging its investment climate and international reputation if it continues using questionable legal tactics aimed at pressuring companies rather than ensuring justice. As Gambaryan's detention proceeds without due process entering its fifth month, more stakeholders are urging the highest levels of the US administration to take a firmer stance and facilitate his release through coordinated diplomatic pressure on Nigeria.

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