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Cryptocurrency Developer Indicted In New York For Sharing Expertise With North Korea

Cryptocurrency Developer Indicted In New York For Sharing Expertise With North Korea

Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith was formally indicted on charges of violating the United States International Emergency Economic Powers Act in the District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, Inner City Press reported.

What Happened

The cryptocurrency and blockchain developer was later released on $1 million bail, which is secured by the houses owned by his father and sister, according to Inner City Press.

Griffith was arrested on Thanksgiving day on allegations of traveling to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and sharing his expertise on cryptocurrencies to help the country "evade sanctions," in violation of the restrictions placed by the U.S.

The prosecutors cited Griffith's alleged texts to his parents, where he expressed his intention to renounce American citizenship and set up a money-laundering business in North Korea, the Inner City Press reported.

"Griffith jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea's dangerous regime," John Demers, the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division said at the time.

Why It Matters

The developer's arrest sparked a controversy among the cryptocurrency community, with experts arguing both in favor and against the detention.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, arguably the best-known name in the community, said that Griffith only shared publicly-available information and not some "advanced tutoring."

Journalist Laura Shin pointed out the dangers of sharing any information with an oppressive regime responsible for oppressing their own people for decades.

What's Next

The formal reading of the charges in the case is due next week, Griffith's bail letter posted by CoinDesk suggests.

The prosecution team has requested the court to keep Griffith under detention at his parents' home in Alabama and not be allowed to stay in a hotel room in New York, as Griffith's lawyers requested.

The District Attorney's office also told the court that letting Griffith keep his passport, even for a short time, "poses a serious risk" as he could use it to flee by traveling internationally.

Posted-In: Blockchain EthereumCryptocurrency News Legal Global Markets General Best of Benzinga


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