07 Jan 2020
Virgil Griffith, the infamous creator of WikiScanner and a blockchain developer who stood at the origins of the Ethereum Foundation, has been released from the detention facility on a $1 million bond, on the condition that he will refrain from visiting the state of California.
Griffith had appeared before the judge of the U.S. District Court that operates in the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York last year, on December 26. However, the bail hearing didn't go the way the programmer and his team of lawyers wanted, as his plea was denied because the judge assumed that the detainee could fail to appear before the court again, simply put, he could flee the country to avoid sentencing. The prosecutor, who represents the Attorney's Office for that district, had been correct to assume that Griffith would appeal against the court ruling, which he did eventually.
The next hearing took place four days later at the same district court. Only on that occasion, it was presided by the judge Vernon Broderick. This time, the servant of justice turned out to be lenient towards the accused, despite certain controversial, if not provocative, statements made by Griffith before and during the hearing.
For instance, he claimed that the speech that he delivered during the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, which took place last April in the capital of North Korea, was intended for the representatives of the country's private sector, not to the authoritarian regime, as the prosecutor claims. One of the assistants to the U.S. attorney riposted sharply that there is no such thing as the private economy in such totalitarian states as the DPRK; therefore, Griffith was ignorant of the fact that people from the highest echelons of the regime might have been present at the conference, or he tolerated their attendance.
The programmer's unconventional sympathy towards the geopolitical pariah must have got under the judge's skin as, at one point, he said sarcastically to Griffith that he wouldn't even get to the bond hearing if he has been tried for committing a similar offense in North Korea. Hard to argue with that as the notoriety of the trigger-happy justice system in the DPRK is known throughout the world.
Moreover, the former member of the Ethereum Foundation acknowledged the fact that he had been contemplating the possibility of voluntarily relinquishing U.S. citizenship and obtaining that of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a well-known offshore haven.
Despite all those subtle provocations coming from the prosecuted crypto educator, the judge decided to be complacent and released him from detention on a $1 million bail, provided in the form of bond. Griffith, obviously, didn't have that kind of money, but, luckily, he has a caring family that took care of the matter.
His father stepped forward and provided a house, the value of which was assessed at $835 thousand, as a security for the bond. The remaining part was covered by some of his sister's property. Griffith also got his passport back - he was even allowed to take trips to several countries, including St. Kitts and Nevis. Nevertheless, Virgil would be forced to spend the majority of time before the next hearing at his parent's house in Alabama.
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