Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin calls for Virgil Griffith’s release
Apart from the impending Istanbul hard fork scheduled to take place in the next few days, the Ethereum Foundation has been making headlines over the arrest of Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum Research Scientist. While the Foundation asserted that Griffith did not represent the Ethereum Foundation in any capacity and that his visit to North Korea was personal, several influencers accused the Foundation of throwing Griffith under the bus. However, Griffith’s tweet from earlier this year seems to back the Foundation’s statement. The tweet read,
Ethereum Foundation isn't going. This is just my vacation.
— Virgil Griffith | 𝚟𝚒𝚛𝚐𝚒𝚕.𝚎𝚝𝚑 (@virgilgr) January 18, 2019
While the Ethereum Foundation has been assertive about its position on Griffith being charged with about 20 years of prison over conspiring to violate the IEEPA, Co-founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin came to the rescue of Griffith. Buterin took to Twitter and suggested that he will veer away from the “convenient path of throwing Virgil under the bus.” Buterin also revealed that he is ready to sign a petition to free Griffith.
In his series of tweets, Buterin stated,
“0. Prefacing with two points. [i] Conflict-of-interest disclosure: Virgil is my friend, [ii] this whole thing has nothing to do with EF. EF paid nothing and offered no assistance; it was Virgil’s personal trip that many counseled against”
“Geopolitical open-mindedness is a *virtue*,” he added, stating that it is rather “admirable” that Griffith went to educate a group that has been instructed to believe in “Maximum Evil Enemy.”
Buterin also highlighted that Griffith’s “virtue” has previously been beneficial in accelerating and improving relations with Ethereum Classic, Hyperledger.
Laura Shin pitched in as well, pointing out the sufferings of the citizens of North Korea. She went on to tweet,
I see tweets saying that acts like Virgil's could bring "peace" between North and South Korea. Um, "peace" between the two governments requires the continued imprisonment of 25 million people in North Korea.
— Laura Shin (@laurashin) December 2, 2019
The U.S Attorney’s Office had alleged that Griffith trained his audience to use blockchain technology to tackle sanctions. However, Buterin claimed that Griffith had merely repackaged a presentation with information that is already available to the public. “There was no weird hackery, “advanced tutoring,” he added.
Buterin concluded by urging the U.S to exhibit strength, rather than weakness, and wrote,
“and focuses on genuine and harmful corruption that it and all countries struggle with rather than going after programmers delivering speeches parroting public information.”