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Former Ethereum minister wants to drop charges of aid to North Korea

Virgil Griffith released on bail in December 2019



Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith wants the US government to file a case claiming that he helped the North Koreans use ethereum to circumvent US sanctions with North Korea during a conference in April last year.


Griffith filed a motion on Thursday (22) to close the case with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. His lawyers, Brian Klein and Sean Buckley, said in the case that the prosecution is „short and vague, just chanting the statutory language, without providing any facts to demonstrate the conduct that the government believes violates the law.


Geoffrey Berman, now a former prosecutor in the same region, commented on Griffith’s arrest in November 2019, saying that „Griffith has put at risk the sanctions that both Congress and the president have decreed to exert maximum pressure on the dangerous North Korean regime. Griffith was released on bail at the end of the year.


All he did was attend the conference, his lawyers argue, „on his own account, and made a highly general speech based on publicly available information – as he does almost monthly at conferences around the world“.

The motion to dismiss the case reinforces Griffith’s argument throughout the year: he hasn’t really taught the North Koreans how to get around sanctions – who actually learns anything at conferences?


The motion to dismiss the case also invokes Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; since the US government is moving closer to the regime, it makes sense that Griffith also attend a conference to publicise the ethereum. Indeed, his speech was entitled „Blockchain and Peace“.


Griffith attended the conference despite the US State Department denying him permission to travel to North Korea in February 2019 to talk about the blockchain. The motion to dismiss the case, however, said „The letter did not state that a decision to travel to the DPRK – or in that case attend the conference – would violate US law, or that any license from the OFAC or any other US agency was required“.


„Because of all these serious defects, Griffith respectfully asks this Court to dismiss the indictment without prejudice.