Government lawyers have suggested that citizens could legally pass on nuclear secrets to North Korea if they followed Griffith’s criteria.
US government classifies Virgil Griffith’s argument to dismiss sanctions charges as „absurd“ NEWS
Lawyers representing the US government have entered a legal memorandum opposing the rejection of the accusations of Virgil Griffith, a former Ethereum Foundation researcher accused of conspiring to violate US sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
According to court records filed on November 19 in the Southern District of New York, prosecutors referred to Griffith’s argument on October 22 to reject the charges against him as „ineffective. The legal team is claiming that the former Ethereum Foundation researcher provided a service to the DPRK using an analogy of a U.S. citizen providing nuclear secrets to scientists in the inmate nation:
„A simple hypothesis exposes the absurdity of Griffith’s position. By Griffith’s logic, the [North Korean Sanctions Regulations] would allow an American physicist to travel to the DPRK and explain the science behind nuclear weapons to a conference of North Korean physicists, as long as the science could be found on the Internet, he had received no payment, and the regime’s desire to build nuclear weapons was not economic in nature. “
The US district court indicted Griffith in January on charges of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act after a presentation he made at a North Korean conference in April. The speech allegedly contained information that North Korean agents could use to circumvent economic sanctions with cryptomime and blockchain technology.
Federal authorities claim that Griffith knew the DPRK was specifically interested in methods to circumvent sanctions using the blockchain. They claim that Griffith sent a text message to an associate, stating that he planned to facilitate the 1 Ether (ETH) transaction „between North and South Korea,“ knowing that this would violate the sanctions.
Griffith argued that his presentation was a „highly general speech based on publicly available information,“ that he received no fee for his participation, and that the speech was not „economically useful. Therefore, he claims that the charges have no merit and that the speech is protected by the First Amendment.
However, the legal memorandum states that Griffith admitted that he „introduced concepts“ about crypto and blockchain to conference participants in his interviews with the FBI in May and November, and some North Koreans probably came out with a better understanding of how to use technology to circumvent sanctions.
The case against Griffith is ongoing. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently out on bail for US$1 million.