Ethereum Foundation member Virgil Griffith, who was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly violating the U.S. sanctions laws, will be released from jail pending trial.
Ethereum developer and a research scientist Virgil Griffith, who was last week arrested in Los Angeles, will be released from jail until trial. It was told by Brian Klein who acts as his defense lawyer.
Just for reminder, Ethereum Foundation staffer Griffith has been arrested for reportedly going to a blockchain conference in North Korea where he wanted to share his knowledge of using cryptocurrency. However, such a move is said to violate the U.S. sanctions law.
John Demers, an assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement that they warned him not to go but that despite receiving warnings Griffith went to North Korea. The authorities believe that Griffith taught people how blockchain can be used with a view to evading sanctions.
Let’s not forget that in April this year, the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference was organized in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea. Griffith allegedly asked for consent to attend this event but he was denied. But then he made a decision to go to the conference without approval.
The complaint against Griffith was authored by a special agent for the FBI Brandon M. Cavanaugh, he said:
“At the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, GRIFFITH and other attendees discussed how blockchain and cryptocurrency technology could be used by the DPRK to launder money and evade sanctions, and how the DPRK could use these technologies to achieve independence from the global banking system.”
Griffith allegedly revealed photos and documents from the gathering to the agent and said he would like to return to the conference when it happens again in 2020.
According to his LinkedIn page, Griffith has worked for the Ethereum Foundation since October 2016 as its head of special projects. Ethereum foundation sent a statement to nothing it is aware of the whole situation:
“We can confirm that the Foundation was not represented in any capacity at the events outlined in the Justice Department’s filing, and that the Foundation neither approved nor supported any such travel, which was a personal matter.”
The complaint even says Griffith, who is is a Singapore resident, allegedly wanted to seek for citizenship in another jurisdiction.
The case is now transferred to the Southern District’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit, with assistance from the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
His lawyer Klein said that Griffith “looks forward to his day in court, when the full story can come out.”
According to a source familiar with the situation, Griffith’s judge ruled that he should be released and the prosecutors were given a 7-day stay for an appeal.
Some Ethereum developers, including Vitalik Buterin, have given their voices to Griffith, saying that they plan to start a petition to let the scientist go free.
Klein is famous for negotiating also a settlement for Charlie Shrem earlier this year. Shrem was sued by the Winklevoss brothers. They claimed Shrem owed them $26 million worth of the cryptocurrency but in April both of the parties settled the deal.