Biden pressured to intervene in U.S. citizens' detention by Nigeria

    2024.03.16 | exchangesranking | 88onlookers

    The Biden administration is under increasing pressure to promptly aid the release of Tigran Gambaryan, a former United States federal agent with a focus on cryptocurrency, and another Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, detained by the Nigerian government without passports since Feb. 26, 2024.

    The Chamber of Digital Commerce made its appeal through a blog post on its website on March 15 and is leading the demand for urgent diplomatic action to address what they perceive as a significant injustice.

    According to the post, the detention of Tigran Gambaryan in such questionable circumstances establishes a troubling precedent, suggesting that any American entrepreneur abroad, especially those in the cryptocurrency industry, could face similar unlawful actions by foreign authorities. The blog post stated:

    “The unwarranted detention of Tigran Gambaryan is more than a legal issue; it is a matter of national dignity and the protection of American citizens worldwide.”

    The Chamber of Digital Commerce believes that Gambaryan’s detention is arbitrary, without due process, and presents a significant challenge to international law norms and diplomatic relations. 

    Screenshot of Chamber of Commerce's post on X    Source: United States Chamber of Commerce on X

    Nigeria, a beneficiary of over $1 billion of U.S. foreign aid each year, is an ally of the U.S. which makes the situation very tricky and unprecedented, unlike similar cases in states with worse relations with the U.S. Initial reports about the apprehensions of Gambaryan and Anjarwalla emerged in late February, with the Financial Times covering the detentions without explicitly naming them on Feb. 28.

    Related: Nigerian crypto community split over govt’s bid for Binance user data

    According to their families, Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and Anjarwalla, a dual citizen of the U.K. and Kenya, arrived in Abuja on February 25th. They came to Nigeria in response to an invitation from the government to discuss the ongoing dispute with Binance regarding its purportedly illegal activities there.

    The executives purportedly met with Nigerian officials the following day to address the government’s directive for the country’s telecom providers to restrict access to Binance and other cryptocurrency exchanges. Officials attributed the devaluation of Nigeria’s official currency, the naira, and the facilitation of “illicit flows” of funds to crypto exchanges.

    However, rather than reaching a consensus, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were escorted to their hotels shortly after the initial meeting. They were instructed to gather their belongings and transported to a “guesthouse” managed by Nigeria’s National Security Agency, per their families’ accounts.

    The arrests of Gambaryan and Anjarwalla came a few days before Binance officially announced its exit from Nigeria on March 5.

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