The Granath v Wright trial in Norway is over, with much of the trial’s final day spent with Halvor Manshaus and Halvard Helle of Schjodt giving their closing arguments for Dr. Craig Wright’s defense. The outcome is now in the hands of the Judge.
But first, the plaintiffs finished their own closing arguments. Ørjan Salvesen Haukaas of DLA Piper was dismissive of the witness testimony provided by the defense, saying the only witness who corroborated Dr. Wright’s story was Stefan Matthews, whose strong self-interest in Dr Wright’s identity as Satoshi Nakamoto means his statement is “absolutely not trustworthy whatsoever.”
“In total, based on the evidence, we find that the court must find proven that Mr. Wright has not written the Bitcoin white paper, has not written the Bitcoin code, and never had access to Satoshi Nakamoto’s private keys or their Bitcoin,” Haukaas said.
Haukaas quoted from case law to argue that Granath’s statement was not remarkable on the internet or on Twitter. As a public figure, Dr. Wright must tolerate more than others might, and that this was especially so given Dr. Wright’s own use of language online.
Then came Manshaus and Aarseth’s closing arguments, which among other things amounted to a scathing review of Granath’s tweets and the case he put forward against Dr. Wright these past days in Oslo.
Manshaus said that this wasn’t a case where Granath made a single statement in the context of a heated, reciprocal debate: it was a lasting, well thought through and reckless campaign designed for others to take part. Dr. Wright was called a scammer, a fraud, and mentally ill: “Quite simply, this is bullying put into a system.”
Manshaus had powerful words against Granath’s justification—that there is already a wide consensus that Dr. Wright is a fraud—delivered via his own testimony and that of the three crypto ‘experts’ he produced. “As we see it,” Manshaus told the court, “the only consensus is an understanding between bullies that hunt together.”
Granath’s other justifications similarly fall away. The idea that these words are ‘okay’ because it’s the internet, or it’s how people talk on crypto Twitter, were contradicted by Granath’s own witnesses, none of whom would endorse Granath’s use of language and tone.
Manshaus said that Granath’s statements are not exonerated by the European Convention on Human Rights’ protection over freedom of expression. Granath’s campaign was in part designed to strangle debate and suppress Dr. Wright’s ability to take part in it.
Halvard Helle said that there are layers of rationalizations from Granath’s side which must be “peeled off.” At the end of the day, it was pure hate speech online: while Dr. Wright has engaged in debate through Twitter and in person, that has never been the case with Granath. Before Granath decided to launch his campaign against Dr. Wright, the two had never interacted.
“For [Dr Wright], this came as lightning from a clear sky,” said Helle.
Granath’s claimed factual bases for his statements were also rebutted. Things like Granath’s reference to the ATO documents from Kleiman are irrelevant to this question if Granath didn’t have those things in his mind when he labelled Dr. Wright a swindler and a fraud.
On the contrary, Helle and Manshaus both made the point that Dr. Wright had presented documentary evidence to the court as well as first-hand witnesses who are far better placed to testify about Dr Wright’s often mysterious history than Granath’s experts. And the people who were actually present for the only proof Dr. Wright has yet been willing to conduct—Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen—both were convinced. Where a common refrain from Granath’s witnesses was that Dr. Wright was not at all what they imagined as Satoshi, Gavin Andresen had said that he found Dr Wright’s ‘prickly’ personality to accord very well with his own image of Satoshi—and who would know better than Andresen?
Helle also highlighted the method to Granath’s madness online: to behave as provokingly and shockingly as possible in order to spread his message in the most efficient way possible. This can be seen from his tweets about Wright, but also from the rest of his Twitter timeline. Helle showed the court tweets from Granath which had the former school teacher asking why “Putin, Assad and Ahmadinejad make so much more sense than Western leaders,” and saying it was “hard to verify how many Hitler had killed.”
Now, we wait
The seven days spent in court have been illuminating. We finally heard from the man in charge of the Hodlonaut account in person, giving a window into what was behind his social media campaign against Dr. Wright.
It wasn’t pretty. Putting flirtations with Holocaust denial aside, the court saw that Granath’s Twitter campaign has given oxygen to widespread attacks on Dr. Wright—both personally and commercially—perpetrated by the likes of the Bitcoin Plebs group that Granath was grilled about during his testimony on Wednesday.
However, the court also saw something more positive: Dr. Wright’s associates from his former life as an audit professional giving sworn testimony about their experience with Dr. Wright, with some going as far as to fly from Australia to Norway to do so. All were effusive in their praise of Dr. Wright’s technical skill and professional competence, and each had interesting details about the kinds of things Dr. Wright was working on and talking about in the lead up to Bitcoin’s public reveal: blockchain based security systems, permissionless payments and the need for a global platform of digital cash that could be used by anybody. This is to say nothing of the testimony from Dr. Wright’s cousin, Max Lynam, who swore that he and his father had run the Bitcoin software on their home computer from 2008 until the end of 2011.
The contrast between the case of the plaintiff and that of the defendant couldn’t have been starker, but it makes sense: Granath’s narrative is based in cryptoland, where highly cynical and offensive groups like Bitcoin Plebs are a fact of life, and cursory internet sleuthing can credibly stand-in for hard evidence and eye witness testimony. On the other hand, Dr. Wright’s represents a dose of the reality that the rest of the world lives in, where the word of highly credentialed professionals and civil servants are given weight over that of faceless critics hiding behind Twitter accounts.
How the Oslo District Court will weight all of this is yet to be seen. The Judge indicated that a judgment might come in early November, so the answer may not be far off.
Watch Granath vs Wright Satoshi Norway Trial Coverage Livestream Day 7:
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