Former Ethereum Foundation member, Virgil Griffith has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges filed against him by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Griffith who is accused of aiding North Korea in evading sanctions faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Ex-Ethereum Foundation Member Claims Innocence
According to reports from InnerCityPress, Etheruem researcher and scientist Virgil Griffith has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to conspiracy charges before a South District of New York (SDNY) Magistrate court during an arraignment on Thursday ( January 30, 2020).
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Krouse said during the hearing that the prosecution has submitted an initial set of documents for discovery. According to Krouse, the documents also include statements made by Griffith to the FBI during his arrest back in November 2019.
He also said the prosecution expects to submit a second set of documents within the next two weeks.
Speaking on behalf of the defendant, Griffith’s attorney Brian Klein released a statement saying his client should not have been indicted in the first place. Klein further remarked that:
“We are going to vigorously contest the charge and look forward to getting all the facts in front of the jury at trial”.
Klein also requested access to any documents regarding interviews conducted by the FBI with other conference attendees arguing that statements from these interviews could aid in exonerating his client.
Krouse debunked the request saying the defense had no basis to seek access to the FBI’s interviews. However, the Assistant U.S. attorney claimed the prosecution would comply with the Federal rules of civil procedures.
Presiding over the case, Judge Kevin Castel did not give a concise ruling on Klein’s request but encouraged Griffiths attorneys to file the necessary applications as soon as possible. Judge Castel also set a court date of Tuesday (March 17, 2020) for subsequent hearings.
U.S. Keen on Preventing North Korean Crypto Adoption
Virgil Griffith has been on the FBI’s radar ever since he attended the Pyongyang cryptocurrency conference back in April 2019. He was later arrested in November 2019 for allegedly aiding North Korea in understanding blockchain tech and evade U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. government then indicted Griffith on “conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Powers Act” charges in January 2020 after being granted bail under a $1 million bond requirement back in December 2019.
The UN also released a report warning crypto enthusiasts and the public in general against attending the upcoming cryptocurrency conference in North Korea this February 2020, as previously reported by BTCManager.