The Biden administration is under increasing pressure to intervene and secure the release of the detained Binance executives. Calls for swift action have grown louder, urging the administration to address what is seen as a serious injustice. Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive and former U.S. federal agent, along with Nadeem Anjarwalla, another Binance executive, have been detained by the Nigerian government since February 26, 2024. The U.S. Chamber of Digital Commerce has taken the lead, making an appeal through a blog post on its website on March 15, advocating for urgent diplomatic intervention in the matter.

Gambaryan’s Detention Could Set Troubling Precedent

The Chamber of Digital Commerce has expressed deep concern over the detention of Tigran Gambaryan, emphasizing that it goes beyond a simple legal issue. They argue that Gambaryan’s detention sets a worrisome precedent, suggesting that American entrepreneurs, especially those in the cryptocurrency industry, could face similar unlawful actions by foreign authorities. This raises broader implications for national dignity and the protection of American citizens worldwide.

In a recent blog post, the Chamber of Digital Commerce underscored that Gambaryan’s detention lacks due process and violates established international law norms. They believe that this situation poses a significant challenge to diplomatic relations between nations and undermines the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.

By bringing attention to the questionable circumstances surrounding Gambaryan’s detention, the Chamber of Digital Commerce aims to rally support for urgent diplomatic intervention. They argue for the need to address this matter promptly and assert the importance of safeguarding the rights and well-being of American citizens abroad, especially those involved in emerging industries like cryptocurrency.

The Chamber’s stance reflects a broader concern within the cryptocurrency community and emphasizes the need for governments and international bodies to protect the rights of individuals involved in the industry while upholding international legal standards.

Nigeria is indeed a U.S. ally and receives substantial foreign aid from the United States, amounting to over $1 billion annually. However, despite this alliance, reports emerged in late February regarding the apprehension of Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, although the Financial Times did not explicitly name them as the executives involved.

The fact that Nigeria is a recipient of significant U.S. foreign aid adds a layer of complexity to the situation. It raises questions about the potential impact of these detentions on bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as the expectations surrounding the protection of American citizens and businesses in Nigeria.

Given the sensitivity of the matter and the potential diplomatic implications, it is not uncommon for media outlets to report on such incidents without explicitly naming individuals involved, especially during ongoing legal processes or diplomatic negotiations. The focus is often on raising awareness of the broader issue and encouraging appropriate action without jeopardizing the delicate nature of international relations.

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla Detained After Meeting with Officials

According to the families of Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the two executives traveled to Abuja in response to an invitation from the Nigerian government. The purpose of their visit was to discuss the ongoing dispute between Binance and the Nigerian government regarding allegations of illegal activities by the exchange in the country.

On February 26, the executives reportedly met with Nigerian officials to address the government’s directive to restrict access to Binance and other cryptocurrency exchanges by telecom providers. The government attributed the devaluation of the Nigerian currency, the naira, and the facilitation of illicit financial flows to crypto exchanges.

However, instead of reaching a resolution, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were escorted to their hotels after the meeting and instructed to gather their belongings. They were then taken to a “guesthouse” managed by Nigeria’s National Security Agency, as stated by their families.

The arrests occurred just a few days before Binance officially announced its exit from Nigeria on March 5, which adds further complexity to the situation. Prior to joining Binance, Gambaryan had been involved in high-profile cases such as the Silk Road investigation and the takedown of the Welcome to Video crypto-based child sexual abuse materials network.

Binance had to discontinue all services involving the Nigerian local fiat currency, the naira (NGN), due to regulatory scrutiny. The exchange announced the suspension of NGN withdrawals after March 8. The Nigerian government had imposed a substantial $10 billion fine on Binance as part of its crackdown on the platform, aiming to stabilize the nation’s local currency.

These developments highlight the escalating tensions between Binance and the Nigerian government, as well as the significant consequences faced by the executives involved.

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