- US government is considering crypto speech as violation of sanction laws
- Ethereum developer’s filed motion has been rejected by the court
- Bad relation of countries and crypto topic became quite sensitive
While communicating regarding crypto with a large audience and especially with North Korea, additional caution has to be taken. A US federal judge recently rejected a motion over allegations of assisting North Korea to bypass various sanctions.
Crypto Speech considered a Violation
Prosecutors have accused Griffith of giving a speech in Pyongyang (North Korea) for getting around US economic sanctions in 2019. He was arrested on Thanksgiving Day in 2019 but granted bail in December 2019. There was uproar amongst the crypto supports as they came out in support of Griffith and called the US Government ‘corrupt to the core’.
Griffith defended himself by stating that he gave necessary information about blockchain to about 100 North Koreans. The information provided by him is claimed to be publicly available. Due to the tensed relationship between the two nations, prosecutors believe that the speech contents could subsequently be used for money laundering and potentially bypassing US sanctions.
One of his speech made in 2018, does specify him favouring North Korea by offering to set up an Ethereum node to circumvent the existing sanctions on them. Despite such unexpected scenarios, Griffith maintains that the First Amendment freedom of speech protected his choice of words. The case is now official to be debated on, and the court date is in September 2021.
Legal Strength Submerging amidst Strained Relationship
As discussed, the present relations between North Korea and the USA are on sticky grounds, and the topic of cryptocurrency is quite sensitive to spur controversy. A US district judge denied Griffith’s motion due to the ‘short and vague’ indictment lacking specific details of his alleged criminal actions.
He did not receive permission from the US Department of Justice to travel to South Korea for a conference. However, as per court documents, approval was sought from the North Korean United Nations Mission in Manhattan and granted a visa.
Lastly, a jury is set to determine if Griffith did violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act concerning the speech given at the Pyongyang Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Conference in 2019. The battle is expected to become a little more intense due to a lack of clarity on the information intended to be communicated. There does not seem to be any constitutional prohibition, but federal crime appears to be on the cards and may have to be delicately handled.
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