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Virgil Griffith Is Granted $1 Million Bail Despite US Attorney Charges of North Korea and Dark Web

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Dec 30 – Virgil Griffith who was arrested on Thanksgiving on federal charges of illegally traveling to North Korea and provide crypto currency advice and was denied bail on December 26 was on appeal on December 30 ordered released on bail. Inner City Press' live-tweeted thread here and Patreon here.

  The bail appeal hearing began just after 11 am before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Vernon S. Broderick. Griffith's main lawyer Brian E. Klein of Baker Marquart LLP was present at the defense table. In the gallery along with Inner City Press was Virgil Griffith's father, who said he had been reading Inner City Press' tweets.

  Despite the US Attorney's Office, which sent ever more senior Assistants into the courtroom as the proceeding went on, hammering away about the Dark Web and crypto currency wallets in Virgil Griffith's apartment in Singapore, as well as his alleged mulling of buying a St. Kitts passport, Judge Broderick ordered him released.

  The conditions include a $1 million bond secured by the homes of his father and sister. He will be allowed to e-mail with his lawyers, and even to use his passport card for travel, pending getting an Alabama state ID.

  At the proceeding's conclusion Inner City Press asked the Assistant US Attorney if his Office could appeal Judge Broderick's decision and, after a pause as long as it took for the elevator doors to close, he said yes, it could be appealed.

  As Inner City Press has complained, the case until now has remained sealed. That should be ending - watch this site. Here's from Inner City Press' exclusive (live) reporting thread, and Patreon here:

OK- here for Virgil Griffith's appeal of his Dec 26 bail denial for alleged crypto violation of #NorthKorea sanctions, which Inner City Press also exclusively covered, see below. This time Virgil has two lawyers. Here comes Judge Broderck.  "All rise"

 Judge Broderick says he has the 302s from interviews in May and November, but that Griffith's lawyer Klein says he doesn't have. Klein begins argument, notes Griffith's father is here.

Judge Broderick asks if Virgil would continue working. Klein says he's suspended from Ethereum Foundation, though that they've been supportive. This case has nothing to do with Ethereum Foundation, he says.

Judge Broderick tells Virgil Griffith, "Laws in this country are not suggestions... Assisting foreign governments with money laundering is illegal."

Now Judge Broderick says, "If you were in North Korea, you wouldn't be having a bond hearing." Two senior AUSAs walk in. Inner City Press is the only media here

.Klein points out that Griffith is not charged with money laundering, but sanctions violations. He says Virgil is "verbose and provocative." Says Virgil co-invented a Google for the Dark Web. Hands research paper to judge.

 Klein says Virgil Griffith was thrown out of TOR project because he was telling Interpol about the Dark Web.  Judge Broderick says he uses a VPN... he thinks.

 Klein tells Judge Broderick that SpankChain is crypto currency for porn, says "it's legal."  Klein says Virgil's Ether has lost value, and that his investment in a crypto hedge fund was disclosed. Now Klein offers to make showing to Judge Broderick "in camera" - not available to public, nor perhaps prosecution.

 Klein says Virgil considered renouncing US citizenship, but didn't do it, considered going to St Kitts - which has an extradition treaty with the US. Judge Broderick says he checked, he may soon go on a trip to Nevis.

Virgil's father says his house offered as possible security for bond is worth $835,000, with no liens
Now AUSA Kraus says he's a flight risk, quotes Virgil's texts: crypto for weapons program.

 AUSA Kraus: In North Korea, there is no private economy. Conference was by and for regime.   Another senior AUSA walks in.  Inner City Press: Where's US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman?

AUSA Kraus: Prospect of jail time could make Griffith flee. He was making plans to renounce citizenship. He has undisclosed funds. St Kitts sells passports.

 Inner City Press: like Domenica, from which previous Judge Broderick bailee Ng Lap Seng had one.

AUSA Kraus: Ten have cut GPS bracelets and fled. Griffith could, using Dark Web.  Klein: If he flees, he'd lose his job.

 Judge Broderick: How many wallets does Griffith have? Klein: He has some drives in Singapore, can't access. And St Kitts has no consulate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Judge Broderick: There are factors militating for bail. Griffith turned himself in. A $1 million bond secured by sister's and parent's houses. And perhaps he can use the computer, with monitoring. Secure the wallets in Singapore.  AUSA thumbing out messages...

 Upshot: for Virgil Griffith, SDNY Judge Broderick is allowing release on bond, to Alabama with his parents as "moral suasion." Proposes FBI agents escort Griffith to flights.

 Klein wants Griffith to be able to visit Northern District of California, and only signing of the bond to be required before he is released. Judge Broderick: No California yet. Klein: Need unmonitored emailing with Griffith.

 Update: the decision is essentially made. Virgil whispers Thanks to his father in the near-empty courtroom. Judge Broderick in robing room with Pre Trial Services nailing down how to write the conditions of release.

 AUSA Kraus: No email with counsel. Judge Broderick: His Sixth Amendment rights... Kraus: No 6th Amendment right to email.Can overnight mail. Judge Broderick: I'm allowing email. And let him use his passport card

And it's done: after bond signed and house revisited, Virgil Griffith will be released. His father tells Inner City Press he's been reading its tweets.

   We've asked the Griffiths and their lawyer to provide any updates, and have been in questions to the US Attorney's Office. Watch this site.
And Patreon here.

The US Attorney's Office cited his text messages to his parents about renouncing his U.S. citizenship and setting up a money laundering business in North Korea.

  In the Magistrates Court of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York his parents were present, along with Inner City Press as the only media. They were there since the morning, and watched the other cases Inner City Press reported on.

  Assistant US Attorney Kimberly Ravener told SDNY Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses that Griffith had misled Pre-Trial Services about his residence in Puerto Rico; his laywer Mr. Buckley first said Griffith owned it, then that he rented.

  Judge Moses asked why he has a residence in Puerto Rico. Buckley said Puerto Rico is a developing area in the crypto space.

  Griffith's request to be released was first stayed by SDNY District Judge Denise Cote, operating a "Part I" judge at the time. Buckley at the conclusion near 5 pm of the bail denial hearing on December 26 said he and a colleague flying in might seek to appeal. Inner City Press will continue to cover this case, as it covered the OneCoin trial. Here is its live-tweet threat of December 26, more on Patreon here...


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