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Cryptocurrency research scientist arrested for 'aiding North Korea'

Telegraph 30 Nov 2019 03:51

An American research who works for Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, has been arrested for giving a talk on how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions in North Korea. 

Virgil Griffith is accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which has a maximum 20 year sentence, after travelling to Pyonyang to talk at the regime's annual blockchain event, despite warnings from the US government. 

He was arrested in Los Angeles airport on Thursday and appeared in court on Friday, according to a statement published by the FBI. 

The charge sheet alleges that Griffith asked permission to travel to the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference. When he was refused, the Korean embassy prepared a visa that did not need to be affixed to his passport. On April 18, it alleges he travelled to North Korea through China.

Griffith had been cooperating with FBI agents, including an interview in early November in which he discussed his attendance and allowing a search of his phone.

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Virgil GriffithNorth KoreacryptocurrencyUnited StatesLos Angeles