TL;DR: Host Collin Enstad will livestream Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 at 9pm EST to discuss the arrest of Ethereum Foundation researcher Virgil Griffith on charges of helping North Korea to evade US economic sanctions. Griffith is well-known within the cryptocurrency community, and his plight has divided opinion. Enstad will try and sort it all out, from hot takes to bad takes.
Crypto is NOT for Commies! Examining the Plight of Virgil Griffith
In February, CoinSpice got wind of a first-of-its-kind cryptocurrency conference in North Korea run by Alejandro Cao de Benós, described as a “Special Delegate for the Committee for Cultural Relations and President of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA).” We were torn about the obvious issues involved but intrigued by what might go on there.
Apparently so was Virgil Griffith. By now, readers are probably aware of the skeletal details of Griffith’s subsequent arrest and plight. Tonight, Enstad will get into the details and sample controversial reactions from the ecosystem. A lot of people are taking US law enforcement at its word, assuming their characterization of Griffith’s actions are true.
And even if they are true, there’s still plenty to debate.
Here are the facts we have now:
- Personal webpage
- Born in Alabama
- Virgil Griffith, 36 years old, aka as romanpoet online
- Been in the public eye since at least 2008 as a hacking star
- Created WikiScanner
- PhD in Theoretical Neuroscience from Caltech
- Vitalik Buterin lived with him during Griffith’s grad school days
- Tried to talk Buterin out of starting Ethereum
- Joined Ethereum Foundation 2 years ago — special projects, research
- Traveled to North Korea April 18 of this year — not on official Ethereum Foundation business
- Attended Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference
April 26 and 27
- Had been living in Singapore
- FBI interviewed Griffith late May of this year in New York
- FBI alleges he admitted to knowing the trip was illegal
- FBI alleges Griffith sought permission before hand
- FBI alleges he was denied
- FBI alleges Griffith held back passport documents to evade detection by US authorities
- His talk was titled Blockchain and Peace
- FBI alleges Griffith allowed his phone to be searched
- FBI alleges a Griffith text contained the answer “probably avoiding sanctions … who knows”
- FBI alleges Griffith wanted to send crypto between North and South Korea, and an electronic message confirms he knew that too was illegal
- FBI again interviewed Griffith last month in San Francisco
- Griffith said information he relayed to North Korea was publicly available
- FBI alleges Griffith admitted transmitting technical knowledge
- FBI alleges he wanted to get another citizenship
- Arrested in Los Angeles on November 28th based on those two interviews
- Charged with one count of conspiring to violate the IEEPA
- International Emergency Economic Powers Act
- Allows POTUS to issue Executive Orders
- Executive Order 13466 by President W Bush in late June of 2008
- United States Persons are prohibited from exporting any goods, services, or technology to the DPRK without a license from Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control
- Griffith faces 20 years in prison
- International Emergency Economic Powers Act
- On December 2nd, attorney Brian Klein announced he was representing Griffith
- Judge agreed to allow Griffith out on bail through the trial
- Klein represented Erik Voorhees in case with SEC previously
- On December 3rd, Reuters reported Griffith told a friend it would be “really cool” if North Korea mined ether
- They also claim last year at a conference in South Korea, Griffith was trying to arrange mining equipment be sent to North Korea
- There is no charge from authorities, as of yet, about moving physical goods to North Korea — only knowledge at this point
- #FreeVirgil: Release Virgil Griffith from Prison Change.org petition
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