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On December 1st, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the second-largest cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH)trade and Bitcoin magazine, tweeted a link to a blog post that promotes a petition to free the programmer Virgil Griffith, who is accused of assisting North Korea bypass U.S.-imposed sanctions.
In the tweet, Buterin states that he believes throwing Griffith under the bus would be wrong, and he further elaborates his reasoning for doing so.
Buterin begins defending Griffith by stating that he is friend so there’s bound to be a conflict of interest. He further adds that the trip to North Korea was Griffith’s personal choice and had nothing to do with the Ethereum Foundation, and that the Ethereum Foundation neither paid for the trip nor offered any assistance.
He initiates his reasoning by commending Griffith’s geopolitical open-mindedness, claiming that it is admirable for him to have interacted with a group of people, referring to North Koreans, who have been constantly painted as an evil enemy, and attempted to understand what they have to say. Buterin says that the world would be a better place if more people across the globe adopted that kind of a mindset.
He adds that such open-mindedness has proven beneficial in other areas of his work as well, citing the examples of improved relation with Ethereum Classic and Hyperledger. He acknowledged that these were less intense than the current North Korea issue, but reinforces the validity of the point, nevertheless.
Publicly Available Crypto Information and Open Source Software
Vitalik Buterin believes that Griffith did not do anything objectionable, as he simply delivered a presentation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) based on information that is publicly available regarding open-source software; hence, he did not aid nor partook in any malicious activity. He further adds that if that had been the case, he would have protested against it strongly.
He concludes the Twitter thread by saying that Griffith did not benefit personally from this trip and he hopes that the United States focuses on real damaging corruption that engulfs it and other countries rather than targeting a programmer for delivering speeches based on pre-existing public knowledge.
He tweeted the link to a Medium post by Enrico Talin, titled ‘Let’s start a petition to free Virgil Griffith.’ The post contains a link to a change.org petition for the cause. Talin, the founder and CEO of commerc.io, shared his personal recollections and anecdotes of Griffith and labelled him as a “man of peace.”
Talin states that he thinks the US Government is wrong about Griffith and asked rhetorically the question whether or not freedom of speech is limited when we talk publicly about blockchain. He concludes the post by asking readers to do the right thing.