An American cryptocurrency expert was arrested in Los Angeles Thursday for allegedly helping North Korea use cryptocurrency to evade USA sanctions, according to a criminal complaint from the Department of Justice.
"Geopolitical open-mindedness is a virtue".
Griffith is a research scientist for the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss-based cryptocurrency platform. And with an explicit warning to avoid going, he was in trouble regardless of what he said. However, Virgil traveled to North Korea in April this year and reportedly discussed how the country could use cryptocurrency to evade such restrictions and "launder money".
Griffith is accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which bars US citizens from exporting goods, services, or technology to North Korea without a license from the Department of Treasury.
In a press release, the US Department of Justice explains that in doing so, Virgil "jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea's risky regime".
After the conference, he "began formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency" between North and South Korea knowing that his assistance would violate sanctions against North Korea, the complaint said. "It's even more egregious that a US citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary". However, Griffith's tweet from earlier this year seems to back the Foundation's statement. He apparently called on other Americans to visit North Korea (including for the crypto conference) and signaled plans to renounce his U.S. citizenship while buying citizenship elsewhere.
"I don't think what Virgil did gave [North Korea] any kind of real help in doing anything bad", added Buterin. Buterin also says Griffith's talk at the conference focused only on "publicly available info about open-source software". "There was no weird hackery 'advanced tutoring'".
Others in the cryptocurrency community weren't as sympathetic to Griffith, with many criticizing him for knowingly breaking the law.
However, given the underlying current of libertarianism in the crypto-movement, it's not surprising to find supporters either. "People opposing sanctions are opposing war".