Vitalik Buterin Supports Freeing Ethereum Dev Arrested for Visit to N. Korea

Vitalik Buterin Supports Freeing Ethereum Dev Arrested for Visit to N. Korea

  • Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin published a series of tweets supporting Virgil Griffith.
  • Griffith, a developer for the Ethereum Foundation, was arrested last week after visiting a conference in N. Korea.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has voiced his support for Virgil Griffith after the latter was arrested for visiting North Korea and allegedly using his knowledge of crypto to help the country avoid sanctions. 

I refuse to take the convenient path of throwing Virgil under the bus, because I firmly believe that that would be wrong. I'm signing. Reasoning below.— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 1, 2019

On Thanksgiving Day, Virgil Griffith was arrested by U.S. authorities at the Los Angeles International Airport. Griffith, who has been a research scientist with the Ethereum Foundation since 2016, was charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), by reportedly sharing his expertise in crypto and blockchain at a conference in N. Korea. 

Buterin took to Twitter on Dec. 1 to provide support for Griffith. He disclosed up-front that he is friends with Griffith and clarified that the Ethereum Foundation had nothing to do with the trip to North Korea. 

0. Prefacing with two points. [i] Conflict-of-interest disclosure: Virgil is my friend, [ii] this whole thing has nothing to do with EF. EF paid nothing and offered no assistance; it was Virgil's personal trip that many counseled against— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 1, 2019

Buterin called it “admirable” for Griffith to risk visiting N. Korea, despite the country’s connotations, and applauded his “geopolitical open-mindedness.” 

Ethereum’s co-founder also argued against the idea that Griffith had provided the N. Koreans with special technology that would allow them to avoid sanctions. 

3. I don't think what Virgil did gave DRPK any kind of real help in doing anything bad. He *delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open-source software*. There was no weird hackery "advanced tutoring".— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 1, 2019

Buterin concluded his series of tweets by asking the US to show “strength rather than weakness” and focus on issues larger than a programmer delivering public information at a conference. 

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