Do Kwon’s South Korea Extradition Uncertain After Challenge from Top Prosecutor

The Montenegrin High Court’s decision to extradite Kwon to his native South Korea over the U.S. overstepped the limits of its power, according to the supreme state prosecutor.

AccessTimeIconMar 21, 2024 at 9:54 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 22, 2024 at 6:09 p.m. UTC
  • Terra co-founder Do Kwon’s extradition to South Korea has been halted following a legal challenge from the top prosecutor of Montenegro.
  • Kwon has been in Montenegrin custody since March 2023, when he was arrested and jailed for using fake Costa Rican documents in traveling to Dubai.
  • Montenegrin authorities are weighing competing extradition requests for Kwon from his native South Korea and the U.S., where he also faces criminal charges.
  • Kwon had allegedly been on the run for months following the $40 billion implosion of Terraform Labs and the Terra ecosystem in May 2022.

Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon’s pending extradition to South Korea has apparently been put on ice following a legal challenge issued Thursday by Montenegro’s top prosecutor.

Montenegro’s Office of the Supreme State Prosecutor said that the High Court’s decision to extradite Kwon to his native South Korea instead of to the U.S. – as well as the appellate court’s subsequent confirmation – was done via “abbreviated proceedings” that exceeded the limits of its powers, according to a translated statement published Thursday

A decision on permission for Kwon’s extradition is to be made solely by the country’s minister of justice, according to the statement. Kwon was not directly named in the statement, which simply refers to “a citizen of the Republic of South Korea.”

Montenegro was inadvertently placed at the center of a tug-of-war between the U.S. and South Korea a year ago, when Kwon and his colleague, Han Chang-joon, were arrested and jailed

for attempting to use fake Costa Rican passports en route to Dubai. Kwon’s arrest came six months after Interpol issued a “red notice” for his arrest and 10 months after the $40 billion implosion of his company, Terraform Labs, and the Terra ecosystem.

Kwon faces criminal charges in both the U.S. and South Korea, but he's fought extradition since his arrest, appealing several court decisions with varying degrees of success.

Han was extradited to South Korea in February, and Kwon looked poised to follow. His Montenegrin lawyer, Goran Rodic, told CoinDesk Kwon was likely to be extradited to South Korea after March 23, but that timeline – as well as Kwon’s ultimate destination – is once again hazy.

Edited by Jesse Hamilton.


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Cheyenne Ligon

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.