ETH researcher Virgil Griffith filed a motion to dismiss the conspiracy charges from the Southern District of New York that claimed he was guilty of conspiring to violate US sanctions against North Korea as we are reading more in today’s latest Ethereum news.
Virgil Griffith argues that due to his April 2019 conference presentation consisted of widely available public information, he didn’t provide services to North Korean officials. He was an Ethereum Foundation researcher who was accused of conspiring to violate US sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The ETH researcher Virgil Griffith filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York have failed to state his crimes.
Griffith, 37, was arrested in 2019 by FBI agents after a presentation at a conference in North Korea in April. The prosecutors alleged that at the conference Griffith rendered services to the government of North Korea in the form of “valuable information” that he provided to DPRK officials and that he took part in the conversations about how to use blockchain technology and to avoid the sanctions. Griffith in the meantime contended that his presentation was “highly general speech based on publicly available information.”
The motion to dismiss the charges now hinges on whether or not planning to give this presentation can be seen as a conspiracy to violate sanctions. Griffith argued that because he was not paid for his speech and was not under contract, he didn’t provide services to the North Korean government and that his speech is protected from US government prohibition under the First Amendment. Also, he argued that this presentation falls under the exemption in the international emergency economic powers act for the sharing of information and information materials:
“If the speech Mr. Griffith purportedly gave is not ‘information,’ then nothing is.”
Griffith’s case has divided the crypto community while Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin defended him by saying:
“I don’t think what Virgil did gave DPRK any kind of real help in doing anything bad. He delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open-source software. There was no weird hackery ‘advanced tutoring.’ […] Virgil made no personal gain from the trip. […] I hope U.S.A. […] focuses on genuine and harmful corruption that it and all countries struggle with rather than going after programmers delivering speeches.”
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