Virgil Griffith stands as a former researcher of the Ethereum Foundation, and has been accused by the US of conspiracy to violate US sanctions. In particular, he is charged with attempting to violate the sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea. On Thursday, Griffith had filed a motion for dismissal of these charges against him, claiming that the Southern District of New York’s prosecutors had failed to state Griffith’s crime correctly.
FBI Scooping Griffith Up For Charges Of Conspiracy
FBI agents had arrested Griffith, age 37, back on the 28th of November, 2019. This occurred after he had done a presentation at a North Korean conference, back in April of 2019.
It’s alleged by prosecutors that this presentation Griffith had done, had given services to the government of North Korea. In particular, it’s claimed that he passed on “Valuable Information” to DPRK officials, allegedly participating in conversations where he explained how to use blockchain technology to bypass sanctions against the country.
Griffith: All Information Was Publicly Available
Griffith, in turn, has contended this. According to him, his presentation was a very general one, based on information that was publicly available to start with.
A further argument from Griffith’s motion is how he wasn’t paid to attend this conference; neither was he serving as a consultant at the time. As such, the man couldn’t provide a service to the DPRK. Further arguments are that his speech falls under the US government prohibition within the First Amendment.
Griffith further argued that the presentation he made fell explicitly under an exemption within the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, particularly for the sharing of information materials and information in general.
The motion claimed that Griffiths speech, if not considered “information,” would render nothing as information in the eyes of the law.
The motion to dismiss the charges rests entirely on the legal interpretation that Griffith planning and giving a presentation could either be a conspiracy or not, thus conspiring to violate US sanctions.
Crypto Community Divided Over Case
The crypto community at large had been rather divided over the Griffith case. Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, gave a statement about the matter at large. In his opinion, Griffith’s presentation didn’t really provide any help to the DPRK, citing the publicly available information he used on open-source software to do it. Buterin cited the lack of advanced classes, and expresses hope that the US picks targets more worthy of prosecution.