Ethereum developer, Virgil Griffith, in custody for allegedly teaching North Korea about crypto

  • Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has publicly backed Griffith through a series of tweets.
  • Griffith’s lawyer Brian Klein tweeted that the charges will be tested in court this Monday.

Ethereum developer, Virgil Griffith, was arrested for allegedly assisting North Korea by educating them about cryptocurrencies. Griffith’s lawyer Brian Klein tweeted that the charges will be tested in court. 

I now represent Virgil Griffith and am very pleased that today the judge found that he should be released from jail pending trial. We dispute the untested allegations in the criminal complaint, and Virgil looks forward to his day in court, when the full story can come out.

According to the complaint, Griffith had requested permission to travel to North Korea to give a presentation titled “Blockchain and Peace," which wasn't granted. This Monday, a preliminary court hearing will determine if the US Department of Justice had enough evidence for probable cause or not. Griffith was arrested on following grounds:

Violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by traveling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) in order (to) deliver a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions.

If found guilty, Griffith would be jailed for 20 years. However, a lot of people from the cryptocurrency community have supported Griffith. Many believe that the visit was inoffensive and it did not include any particularly inaccessible information.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has publicly backed Griffith while stating that Ethereum did not fund Griffith’s participation at the North Korean event. Buterin tweeted:

I don't think what Virgil did gave DRPK(sic) any kind of real help in doing anything bad. He *delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open-source software*. There was no weird hackery "advanced tutoring".


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