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Virgil Griffith, a tech expert who was arrested last month for travelling to a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea and allegedly provided sensitive information regarding the technology to the country, has been granted $1 million bail and is expected to be released shortly from jail.
Griffith had initially been denied bail on December 26th and then appealed for a release on bail on December 30th. The appeal proceedings were covered on Twitter by Inner City Press.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held the hearing and the case was presented before Judge Vernon S. Broderick. Brian E. Klein, one of the primary lawyers defending Virgil Griffith, made an appearance at the hearing, along with Virgil Griffith’s father.
The proceedings of the hearing had several different discussions about Griffith’s involvement with internet and technology including the dark web and multiple cryptocurrency wallets found in the apartment owned by him in Singapore and his alleged involvement with purchase of St. Kitts passport. Despite the allegations made by the prosecutors, in the end Judge Broderick reached to the conclusion to grant his bail and order his release.
The terms of the agreement of Virgil Griffith’s bail specify that he has to pay $1 million bond security for his father and sister’s house and he will be allowed communication with his lawyer through e-mail and several travel restrictions have been lifted so he can continue the use of his passport. The Assistant US Attorney said yes to whether his office could appeal Judge Broderick’s decision.
Serious Allegations of Violating North Korea Sanctions
Although the details of the proceedings of the case have remained blurry, a few reporters who were present in the courtroom have indicated that the judge asked whether Virgil Griffith would continue working in the tech and crypto businesses, to which Griffith’s lawyer Klein responded by saying that Griffith has been suspended from the Ethereum Foundation. Despite this, Ethereum executives and primarily Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin have strongly advocated for Virgil’s release.
Judge Broderick also stated that assisting foreign governments with money laundering is obviously illegal, a remark directed at Virgil Griffith, to which Griffith’s lawyer responded by saying that Griffith had not been arrested under the charges of money laundering, he was charged under allegedly violating sanctions placed upon the country of North Korea.
His lawyer further added that Griffith even considered renouncing his U.S. citizenship, but did not go through with the process. The issue of renouncing citizenship was brought up by the prosecutors, including a series of text messages with his parents.
After being denied bail before, Virgil Griffith’s lawyer were finally able to negotiate a conditional release of their client for $1 million bail.