Cryptocurrency News Today: US Ethereum developer arrested for violating North Korea sanctions

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Cryptocurrency News Today: US Ethereum developer arrested for violating North Korea sanctions

Mission to Pyongyang —

Defenders say Virgil Griffith only presented public information.


A white dude with seriously thick hair.

Enlarge / Virgil Griffith.

The prominent hacker and Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith was arrested by the US government Friday after he spoke at an April conference on Blockchain technologies in North Korea. The US government considers his presentation to be a transfer of technology—and therefore a violation of US sanctions.

But Griffith’s defenders, including Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, describe the arrest as a massive overreaction. Griffith worked for the Ethereum Foundation, and Buterin called him a friend.

“I don’t think what Virgil did gave the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] any kind of real help in doing anything bad,” Buterin tweeted on Sunday. “He delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open source software.”

But federal prosecutors argue that Griffith, a US citizen residing in Singapore, knew full well that his trip violated US sanction laws. They say he sought approval for the trip from the US State Department and his request was denied. Griffith made the trip anyway, traveling through China to evade US travel restrictions.

In a charging document, an FBI agent wrote that Griffith “discussed how blockchain and cryptocurrency technology could be used by the DPRK to launder m

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