Griffith claims that he did not offer North Korean officials a service since his April 2019 conference presentation consisted of publicly accessible public data.

On Thursday, Virgil Griffith, the former researcher of the Ethereum Foundation accused of conspiring to breach U.S. sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, filed a motion to dismiss the accusation against him because prosecutors from the Southern District of New York have not adequately stated the crime of Griffith.

On Nov. 28, 2019, Griffith, 37, was arrested by FBI agents following a presentation in April at a conference in North Korea.

Prosecutors allege that Griffith offered services to the North Korean government at the conference in useful information he provided to DPRK officials. He engaged in discussions about how to escape fines using blockchain technology.

Griffith, meanwhile, claims that his presentation was an exceedingly general speech based on details available to the public.

Thursday’s motion to dismiss the charge now depends on whether it is possible to view preparing and giving this presentation as a plot to breach sanctions or not.

In the motion, Griffith claims that he was not delivering a service to the DPRK because he was not paying for his participation and was not under contract as a contractor. His speech is covered under the First Amendment from the U.S. government prohibition.

Griffith further claims that his presentation comes under an exception for exchanging information and information materials under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

“If the speech Mr. Griffith purportedly gave is not ‘information,’ then nothing is.”

Griffith’s situation has split the crypto community.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin defended Griffith in December, saying:

“I don’t think what Virgil did gave DPRK 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.’ […] Virgil made no personal gain from the trip. […] I hope U.S.A. […] focuses on genuine and harmful corruption that it and all countries struggle with rather than going after programmers delivering speeches.”


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