Craig Wright in Blue Background

No, Dr. Craig Wright never ‘proclaimed’ himself as Satoshi Nakamoto

Among the people and news outlets antagonistic toward Dr. Craig Wright and his status as Bitcoin’s inventor, all seem to paint him with the same tired old label: ‘self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor.’

But no matter your opinion of Dr. Wright’s identity, it should be clear by now—from everything we know from reams of court documents and exhibits and hours of testimony—just how unfair a label this label actually is.

Because Dr. Wright never proclaimed himself as Satoshi Nakamoto. This was done in an expose published by Wired on December 8, 2015, on the basis of documents obtained by a hacker and leaked to the outlet; an expose which Dr. Wright steadfastly refused to participate in, and that we know from private correspondence revealed in court caused him great distress.

Emails submitted into evidence in Kleiman v Wright show the moment Dr. Wright discovered that reporters—including Andy Cush—had been digging around among his circle of acquaintances in Florida and London.

Email from Andy Cush

Dr. Wright’s immediate concern—which later turned out to be well founded given that Wired would go on to run the expose story based on a hacker’s leaked emails and documents—was that somebody (perhaps an ex-staff member) was stealing and selling his data to the journalists. He sent this to a narrow circle of business associates who were aware of his then-secret identity:

Email from Craig Wright

In another email on the same thread, Dr. Wright says that the reporters are reaching out to people who had a connection to Dave Kleiman in Florida, a close personal friend of Dr. Wright’s who had helped edit the Bitcoin white paper. In this email, Dr. Wright singles out Dave’s brother Ira as a source of worry:

Email from Craig Wright 2

Another exhibit from Kleiman v Wright confirms that Ira Kleiman, who launched a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Dr. Wright on the basis that he had invented Bitcoin with help from Kleiman’s brother, was engaged in correspondence with that same reporter in advance of the Wired expose. Dated December 4—days before the story identifying Dr. Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto was first published. Ira responds to Cush using Dave Kleiman’s old email account. He initially tells the journalist that he doesn’t see much of an upside for participating in the story, but then makes clear that his hesitation comes from a concern that the general public might think that he has some of the Satoshi coins. It becomes clear that Ira is willing to participate in the story, just as long as his name doesn’t appear:

“If you want to corroborate some things, you can ask me online and I’ll do what I can,” he concludes.

Within a week, Dr. Wright is identified as Satoshi Nakamoto by Wired. And it shouldn’t be forgotten: the first time Dr. Wright admitted to being Satoshi Nakamoto was in sworn testimony he was compelled to give because of the aforementioned billion dollar lawsuit that Ira Kleiman filed against him. Far from a self-proclamation, that admission was compelled from him in the truest sense of the word.

The source of the Wired documents is uncertain. It may well have been Ira, or some of Dr. Wright’s ex-staffers, or a combination of multiple people that the reporters’ digging turned up. What is certain is that it wasn’t Dr. Wright himself: in addition to his clear anxiety over the prospect expressed in the above private emails, the leak itself did absolutely nothing for Dr. Wright. In fact, it turned his life upside down. Within 24 hours of Wired’s big reveal, the Australian Tax Office swarmed Dr. Wright’s home and offices in Australia in a raid so big it made national news.

Further, Dr. Wright testified during the Granath v Wright defamation trial in Norway that the reporter’s contact was a ‘terribly stressful’ moment. He told the court there that the documents that Wired and Gizmodo had been leaked were ‘horrible’ from his point of view: they were doctored versions of documents painting Dr. Wright in a negative light and portraying Kleiman’s brother as having playing a large part in Bitcoin’s invention.

So, any suggestion that the leak came from Dr. Wright can be safely ruled out as absurd. Who, then, was responsible?

There are the ex-staffers that Dr. Wright has consistently complained about, right from when the Wired reporters were first sniffing around through to the Granath trial late last year. When asked on the stand in Granath who might have leaked the documents, Dr. Wright said again that he knows some of his employees were trying to sell his intellectual property to third parties.

One of these employees seemingly has a history of fabricating documents, as happened with those leaked to Wired. Dr. Wright said in a sworn videotaped deposition for the Kleiman case that Jamie Wilson had been fired by Dr. Wright for fabricating documents in order to steal intellectual property. Wilson was an ex-CFO for one of Dr. Wright’s companies who gave confusing testimony during the Kleiman trial. Wilson seemed caught between implying that the company accounts were fraudulent and trying to make out he had nothing to do with them despite his position as CFO – but as Wilson’s testimony carried on it became clear he had something of a personal axe to grind with Dr. Wright:

“Where I didn’t feel comfortable is Craig’s change of attitude from a developer that would be in hoodies and, you know, very low key… to one that [says] this is it, I’ve got to be the man, I’ve got to be the CEO, new flash suits, ties, and it was just a massive change from where he was conservative to right out there.”

Even more damning is that during the Kleiman v Wright trial, the plaintiffs (Kleiman) produced an expert witness named Dr. Matthew Edman, who testified that certain emails between Dr. Wright and Dave Kleiman had been doctored. His analysis revealed that the doctoring was done in Wooloowin, some 2,000 miles from where Dr. Wright was living at the time (trial transcript page 115). Wooloowin is a suburb over from where Jamie Wilson happens to live and has his business.

So, Jamie Wilson had a bone to pick with Dr. Wright and had the opportunity to take all sorts of documents during his tenure working under Wright as CFO. He also would have been familiar with Dr. Wright’s long-standing harassment by the Australian Tax Office, meaning he’d also have had an idea of the ATO’s likely response should Dr. Wright be publicly outed as Satoshi. What better way to grind his axe than unleashing the fury of the ATO on Dr. Wright all at once, causing him to leave Australia for London?

If Wilson was indeed the original source of the doctored documents that formed the basis of the Wired expose, then it doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched that Ira Kleiman was also involved. Perhaps Kleiman and Wilson colluded to leak the documents to Wired to provide the basis for Kleiman’s eventual multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Dr. Wright: that lawsuit claimed that Ira’s brother Dave was 50% of the Satoshi Nakamoto alias and that his estate is thus due half of the much-discussed Satoshi coins and the associated Bitcoin IP. Doesn’t it seem awfully convenient that the Wired documents were doctored to make out that Dave Kleiman’s role in Bitcoin was far greater than simple editing of the white paper, as Dr. Wright has always claimed?

Or perhaps Ira was a mere stooge, being manipulated into being a vehicle for Wilson’s personal vendettas against Dr. Wright. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Ira has been manipulated in this way: months after the Kleiman case ended, it was revealed that Ira’s lawyers were waging legal wars on the perceived competitors of one of their other, bigger ‘crypto’ clients, Emin Gun Sirer, including by using ‘straw plaintiffs’ such as Ira. Even Ira has finally caught onto this, having just complained to the Judge in charge of his Kleiman appeal that his lawyers apparently have no real interest in helping him win his case.

Whoever is most responsible for the leak, if the aim was to engineer a lawsuit in order to claim half of Dr. Wright’s perceived riches, it failed miserably: the jury overseeing the case came back with a verdict which overwhelmingly exonerated Dr. Wright and confirmed that it was him and him alone who invented Bitcoin. But it wasn’t wholly fruitless: it locked Dr. Wright in years of litigation and gave his opponents plenty of chances to drag his name through the mud and cast flimsily constructed aspersions toward him in a public venue. The doctored documents obtained by Wired are still out there being paraded as truth (many of the documents filed by the plaintiff in Kleiman v Wright bear the Wired/Gizmodo watermark), miring the public discourse around the work Dr. Wright is currently doing.

It bears repeating: Dr. Wright had nothing to gain from being ‘exposed’ as Satoshi Nakamoto in December of 2015. On the contrary, it sent his life into chaos and caused him much personal distress. The ATO raided his properties, and certainly emboldened Ira Kleiman to launch his billion dollar cash grab.

Those claiming that Dr. Wright is in anyway the ‘self-proclaimed’ inventor of Bitcoin should consider all this. They should ask themselves: given everything that’s happened to Dr. Wright since he was revealed as Satoshi, who on earth would have asked for that?

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