- Ex-Ethereum Foundation researcher Virgil Griffith was sentenced to between 63 and 78 months in prison today.
- In 2019, Griffith was charged with conspiring to violate the U.S. International Emergency Economic Powers Act for his participation in a blockchain conference in North Korea.
- Griffith’s advocates have included Vitalik Buterin, who has urged leniency in his case.
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Ethereum Foundation researcher Virgil Griffith has been sentenced to between 63 and 78 months of prison. In 2019, he was charged for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Prison Sentence for Ethereum Developer
Virgil Griffith has been sentenced to at least a half-decade of prison time for peddling blockchain technology to the wrong people.
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Today, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York delivered his sentence to Ethereum developer Griffith:
“Virgil Griffith has no ideology. He’ll play off both sides, as long as he is at the center. I sentence him to 63 months in prison and a fine of $100,000.”
He is presently detained in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
In November of 2019, Virgil Griffith was charged for helping North Korea “launder money and evade sanctions.” In the Spring of that year, he traveled to North Korea, where he spoke at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference. According to John Demers, the Assistant Attorney General at the time, Griffith taught the audience of “one of the United States’ foremost adversaries… how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions.”
His sentence was likely far below the 20-year maximum because he pled guilty to conspiring to violate the U.S. International Emergency Economic Powers Act last September, for which he was apparently “sincerely remorseful.”
Days after the charges were announced, Vitalik Buterin came forward in support of Virgil Griffith. Buterin argued that Griffith presented information that was already publicly available as open-source software, and he urged the United States to focus “on genuine and harmful corruption that it and all countries struggle with rather than going after programmers delivering speeches parroting public information.”
A builder in the Ethereum ecosystem and friend of Griffith, Ameen Soleimani, wrote an open-letter to Judge Castel. Soleimami noted how diplomacy was in Griffith’s nature, even with so-called enemies. For example, Soleimami reflected on Griffith’s role in helping bridge the chasm between the Ethereum community and Ethereum Classic community. He also opined that Griffith’s efforts were paramount in Ethereum being deemed Halal.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies.
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