Controversial programmer Virgil Griffith has been released on bail on appeal, amid charges of conspiring with North Korea to develop its understanding of cryptocurrency.
Griffith was arrested by law enforcement on Thanksgiving, charged with illegally travelling to the rogue state. He was denied bail on December 26, but released on appeal on December 30 by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Vernon S. Broderick, Inner City Press reported.
His arrest came on account of federal charges, with his alleged involvement in North Korea contrary to economic sanctions against the country.
North Korea has been known to be experimenting with cryptocurrency, as well as allegedly using crypto to avoid sanctions affecting mainstream payment channels. Reports have suggested that North Korea may be looking to develop its own cryptocurrency and payments technology, as well as using public cryptocurrencies to circumvent international restrictions.
It follows other sanctioned nations, like Venezuela and Iran, in turning to cryptocurrencies to evade the impact of economic sanctions.
Under his bail conditions, Griffith’s release is secured by a $1 million bond, backed by the homes of two of his family members. He will be allowed to maintain contact with his lawyers during the period, and can travel, albeit with some restrictions.
Among the evidence led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office were details of cryptocurrency wallets in a Singapore apartment linked to Griffith, as well as evidence of his links to the dark web. Evidence was also presented showing Griffith to be considering buying a passport from St. Kitts.
The Ethereum developer will now return to Alabama to spend time with his parents, pending a date for trial. Brian Klein, attorney for Griffith, said his client was satisfied with the decision of the judge.
We are very pleased the district judge sided with us and ordered Virgil to be released pending trial.
Local media quote the U.S. Attorney’s Office as saying an appeal is on the cards.
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