Ethereum researcher requests closure of conspiracy charges in North Korea

Griffith claims that he was not providing a „service“ to the North Korean authorities.

Virgil Griffith, the former Ethereum Foundation investigator accused of conspiring to violate US sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, filed a motion on Thursday asking for the indictment to be shelved, alleging that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York had failed in their duty to prosecute Griffith’s crimes.

Griffith, 37, was arrested by FBI agents on 28 November 2019 after a presentation at a conference in North Korea in April.

Prosecutors claim that at the conference Griffith provided services to the North Korean government in the form of „valuable information“ he provided to DPRK officials, and that he „participated in talks“ on how to use Bitcoin Union technology to avoid sanctions.

Griffith, for his part, said his presentation was a „highly general speech based on publicly available information“.

Thursday’s motion to dismiss the indictment now depends on whether the planning and conduct of this presentation can be interpreted as a conspiracy to violate sanctions.

In the motion, Griffith argues that since he was not paid for his participation and was not under contract as a consultant, he was not providing a „service“ to the DPRK and that his speech is protected from the US government’s ban under the First Amendment .

In addition, Griffith argues that his presentation explicitly falls under an exemption under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act for the sharing of „information“ and „informational materials“.

The movement added:

„If the speech Mr Griffith supposedly made is not ‚information‘, then nothing is.“

As Cointelegraph published earlier, Griffith’s case divided the cryptographic community.

In December, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin defended Griffith, saying:

„I don’t think what Virgil did gave North Korea any real help to do something bad. He made a presentation based on publicly available information about open source software. There was no „advanced tutoring“ of weird hacking. […] Virgil had no personal gain from the trip. […] I hope the US […] will focus on the genuine and damaging corruption that they and all countries are fighting against, rather than persecuting the programmers who make speeches“.