Virgil Griffith (pictured middle second row), one of the most senior developer at the Ethereum Foundation, has been denied bail this festive season after initially being granted it.
It appears another judge intervened to stay the bail, with judge Barbara Moses of the Southern District of New York now denying bail.
According to a local media report, Moses denied bail because of Griffith’s “private communications to his parents about renouncing citizenship and setting up money laundering in hostile North Korea.”
It’s not very clear what exactly she means by money laundering. In the original testimony, Brandon Cavanaugh, a special agent with FBI, said Griffith transferred one eth from North Korea to South Korea as a demonstration of its ease of movement and its permissionless.
In stretchy legalize you can arguably call that money laundering, but Griffith did also Tweet this:
That however seems to be more an out there statement, rather than a statement of intention, but the defense complained they had not been given these texts, stating:
“We’ve sought pre indictment discovery about his supposed discussion of renouncing his US citizenship on his cell phone, ‘which we don’t have.'”
So it’s not very clear what is going on here, but the prosecution seems to be very stretchy with their words. The US Attorney for example said Griffith in a text message claimed to maintain the world’s largest portal to the Dark Web.
They presumably mean tor2web, a project Griffith developed with Aaron Swartz back in 2008.
Whether the judge herself saw these text messages is not clear. It may be the case they just had to rely on what the prosecution said, as clearly did the defense.
Moreover, whether by text messages they mean sms or Twitter is also not clear. It appears the evidence was just not quite presented.
The prosecution is apparently asking for 15 to 21 months in prison for allegedly evading sanctions based on a presentation he gave at a conference in North Korea. It’s not clear how he plans to plead.