FBI Arrests Crypto Educator for aiding North Korea – Is it an Overreaction?

  • Virgil Griffith, a cryptocurrency educator, has been arrested by the FBI on charges of ‘conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.’
  • He violated the sanctions laws of the US by assisting North Korean citizens in developing their technological arsenal.
  • Cryptocurrency enthusiasts take the issue

North Korea launch tested two short-range missile rockets, despite the US’s continuous push for denuclearization. The US Government grows increasingly wary of North Korea making progress with its plans.

Griffith seems to be caught in the fire due to the politics of the two nations. In April, he visited Pyongyang via China to attend the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference as a speaking guest.

The main evidence

The Government accuses the techie of helping North Korea use blockchain and cryptocurrency to evade sanctions.

According to the phone records’ of the accused, he helped an individual in understanding the process of monetary crypto sending transactions between North and South Korea.

On August 6, 2019, he confirms to the unnamed individual and it is indeed a violation of the sanctions to carry out the said transactions.

The compliant said,

“Individual-2 asked, in sum and substance, ‘Isn’t that violating sanctions?’ Griffith replied, ‘it is,’

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney told the media,

“The consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk,” he added,
“It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary,”

Academic Caught in between Political Fire?

The title of his presentation was “Blockchain and Peace.” It seems like, Griffith, a tech visionary is being blamed for promoting peace.

It is an over-reaction from the Government and law enforcers according to some experts. Griffith is fairly popular among the crypto community for working with Ethereum and increasing the viability of crypto-economics.

While Griffith’s intention could have been positive, the case gives leverage to the Government in their stance against crypto.

Emin Gün Sirer, the CEO of AVA labs and professor at Cornell University notes,

Overall, the government’s case looks misdirected. It also doesn’t look strong.

As an aside, there are many ways for a young techie to have a positive impact on the world that do not create an image problem for crypto.

Sirer also notes that there have been various instances in the past where the US academics and scientists have visited enemy nations for conferences and meetings.

Virgil Griffith stands will defend his case at the Los Angeles Federal court. The charges against him carry maximum imprisonment up to 20 years.

Do you think that Griffith would be acquitted in the US vs Griffith case? Please share your views with us. 

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