Will the Loss of a Bright Mind Affect Ethereum?
By nearly all accounts, Virgil Griffith was a talented developer. He held a PD.D. from the California Institute of Technology in computation and neural systems. Griffith notably developed software such as WikiScanner, Tor2web and was an Ethereum developer.
The U.S. born hacker and developer primarily lived in Singapore but was recently arrested by U.S. authorities after landing in Los Angeles.
Griffith, The DPRK & U.S. Authorities.
U.S. Authorities arrested Griffith on November 28th in Los Angeles for participating in a blockchain conference in the hermit nation of North Korea. Griffith not only took part in a DPRK cryptocurrency conference, but he also held a presentation titled "Blockchain and Peace".
Alright here's the short version of the roller coaster.— Taylor Monahan (@tayvano_) November 29, 2019
1. News breaks that Virgil went to North Korea to teach them how to use crypto to launder money + evade sanctions.
2. Docs show that isn't *really* the case. Headlines misleading af. pic.twitter.com/pB5VhG1UfT
After his presentation he was allegedly asked questions regarding mining and proof-of-stake vs proof-of-work.
U.S. officials claim that the purpose of Griffith's trip was to assist North Korea evade sanctions and launder money.
Assistant Attorney General John Demers said: "Despite receiving warnings not to go, Griffith allegedly traveled to one of the United States' foremost adversaries, North Korea, where he taught his audience how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions. By this complaint, we begin the process of seeking justice for such conduct."
Griffith has been charged with conspiring to violate the IEEPA, the International Emergency Economics Powers Act. This carries a maximum prison term of 20 years in federal prison although Griffith's sentencing will be determined by a judge.
Ethereum's Vitalik Buterin Responds
Following a few days of silence from Ethereum's creator Vitalik Buterin, he finally commented on the debacle. He claims that the Ethereum Foundation played no role in the conference, but supports the release of Griffith. Furthermore, he posted an article recommending a petition for his release.
0. Prefacing with two points. [i] Conflict-of-interest disclosure: Virgil is my friend, [ii] this whole thing has nothing to do with EF. EF paid nothing and offered no assistance; it was Virgil's personal trip that many counseled againsthttps://t.co/6K3LErVWjI— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 1, 2019
Time will tell if a petition will help with Griffith's release or if he will remain behind bars for political reasons.
Written by Jonathan Ganor
Writer & cryptocurrency aficionado