Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin defended Virgil Griffith after he was charged with helping North Korea

  • The community behind cryptocurrency Ethereum is in chaos after one of its members allegedly visited North Korea and gave a technical talk, and was then arrested and charged with helping the country evade sanctions.
  • Virgil Griffith works for the Ethereum Foundation, and was charged on Friday with violating US sanctions on North Korea by giving a talk at a cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang.
  • Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin defended Griffith, and said he hoped the USA “shows strength rather than weakness and focuses on genuine and harmful corruption.”
  • UN experts have said North Korean hackers steal huge amounts of cryptocurrency to fund state activities.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The cryptocurrency community is up in arms after the arrest of an expert who was accused of helping North Korea evade US sanctions.

Virgil Griffith works at the Ethereum Foundation, a cryptocurrency that rivals bitcoin. He was accused by federal prosecutors on Friday of giving a talk at a cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, and handing over technical information.

US laws prevent American citizens from providing goods or services to North Korea. According to a statement from prosecutors, Griffith and other conference attendees discussed how North Korea could use blockchain and cryptocurrencies to get around US sanctions.

Virgil Griffith

Virgil Griffith.

Virgil Griffith

Taking to Twitter on Sunday, Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin defended his colleague and said he refused to throw Griffith under the bus for his alleged actions. Buterin added that Ethereum Foundation didn’t pay for Griffith’s trip to North Korea.

“Geopolitical open-mindedness is a *virtue*” Buterin wrote. “It’s *admirable* to go to a group of people that one has been trained since childhood to believe is a Maximum Evil Enemy, and hear out what they have to say. The world would be better if more people…

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