- Virgil Griffith, a research at Ethereum, was recently taken into custody by the US
- Allegation regarding his ties to North Korea had been cited
- Vitalik Buterin initiated a petition to help free his friend
Virgil Griffith, a research at Ethereum, was recently taken into custody by the US State Department. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Griffith of providing “highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions.”
The U.S. Department of State cited that they previously denied Griffith permission to travel to North Korea. Nonetheless, the Ethereum researcher went ahead and presented at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference in April, knowing that doing so would violate sanctions against North Korea.
In support of Griffith’s actions and condemning the strict stance by the US Government, Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin voice his opinion by initiating a petition to help in the freeing of Griffith. Vitalik also stated, “Geopolitical open-mindedness is a *virtue*. It’s *admirable* to go to a group of people that one has been trained since childhood to believe is a Maximum Evil Enemy, and hear out what they have to say. The world would be better if more people on all sides did that.”
Buterin’s arguments met a mixed response on Crypto Twitter, with some pointing to Griffiths’ decision to travel to the DPRK despite allegedly having been denied permission to do so by the State Department.
However, given the underlying current of libertarianism in the crypto-movement, it’s not surprising to find supporters either. Roger Ver, founder of Bitcoin Cash, voiced his support to free Griffith, tweeting that, “sanctions are an act of war. People enacting sanctions are waging war. People opposing sanctions are opposing war.”