Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum Foundation employee, will be released from custody pending trial after the bond for his bail is posted. As per Coindesk, his lawyer, Brian Klein, believes this process will take a few weeks, December 3, 2019. This saga has brought out polarising views from across the cryptocurrency community.
Department of Justice Has ‘Sufficient Evidence’
It was Thanksgiving Day when Virgil Griffith touched down in Los Angeles International Airport and was promptly arrested by authorities for allegedly violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Griffith was denied permission to visit North Korea and deliver a presentation on “blockchain and peace” but he traveled and gave his talk anyway.
During the presentation, he supposedly transferred some amount of cryptocurrency from his wallet to one in South Korea, showing attendees that cryptocurrency transcended traditional barriers. This act was a violation of economic sanctions on the country.
A judge has now ruled that the Department of Justice is indeed justified in their allegations and can move to trial. Griffith’s attorney says his client looks forward to his day in court, where he can contest the “untested allegations”.
Ideological Debate Usurps Conversation
It is no surprise that most people in the cryptocurrency industry are openly libertarian and condemn such action. Most of the community, including Bitcoiners like Giacomo Zucco with a strong disdain for Ethereum, believes that Griffith committed no error worthy of a jail sentence.
Some notable people who believe he was in the wrong include Larry Cermak of The Block and podcast host Laura Shin. Larry Cermak notes that while Griffith’s intent was noble, he is still complicit in breaking a law and aiding an authoritarian regime. On the other hand, Laura Shin believes that Griffith was firmly in the wrong as conferences like these are attended by party members and that even the least oppressed North Korean citizens don’t fully know what the internet is.
Something that’s important to note is that Virgil Griffith’s presentation was grounded in the basics of blockchains implications. This is information that is readily available on the internet, which the North Korean regime, and its scientists, have access to. Comparing the Free Ross campaign for Ross Ulbricht, founder of Silk Road, to this may seem unwarranted, but it is entirely valid given the humanitarian and social implications on both sides.