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Vitalik Buterin says he will sign a petition to free recently arrested developer Virgil Griffith. | Source: Zcash/YouTube
  • Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is signing a petition to free recently arrested developer Virgil Griffith.
  • Buterin argues that Griffith’s North Korean speech was basically public knowledge anyway.
  • Reasoning aside, Griffith still ignored a U.S. travel ban.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has come to the aid of estranged developer Virgil Griffith. FBI officials recently arrested the somewhat rogue developer in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving after he reportedly aided North Korea in its crypto development efforts.

Vitalik Buterin Promises to Sign a Petition to Free Virgil Griffith

CCN reported how the entire incident echoed an eerily prophetic New York Times profile that was made in 2008. A number of crypto outlets picked up on Griffith’s arrest, claiming that the Ethereum Foundation had distanced itself from the 36-year old and subsequently thrown him under a bus.

That report was dismissed on Sunday when Buterin fired off several tweets in defense of his colleague:

Ethereum developer Virgil
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin will sign a petition to free Virgil Griffith. | Source: Twitter


Buterin Argues No “Weird Hackery” Took Place

Buterin’s Sunday Tweetstorm references a piece from Italian developer Enrico Talin, who urged the Ethereum frontman to start a petition to free Griffith.

Buterin’s six-point defense argues that, in addition to his excellent character, much of Griffith’s speech was publicly available information anyway:

I don’t think what Virgil did gave DRPK any kind of real help in doing anything bad. He *delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open-source software*. There was no weird hackery “advanced tutoring”.

Some have criticized the Ethereum Foundation for not denouncing the trip but Buterin claims that many had counseled Griffith against it in the first place.

And if there was any indication that it was going in that direction, I would have reacted much more strongly against it.

Griffith Still Ignored a U.S. Travel Ban

Good reasoning aside, Griffith unfortunately still broke federal law. As some eagle-eyed followers point out, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, all travelers must first get permission from the federal government before traveling to the troubled country.

Washington has prohibited U.S. citizens from visiting North Korea since 2017. In September the government continued its sanctions on the DPRK regime by extending the travel ban by another year.

Of course, that does not include President Trump, who stepped onto North Korean soil in July and established a booming friendship with counterpart Kim Jong-un.

Buterin has not yet provided a link to the petition; we will update it here when he does.

This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.

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