In the second week of a courtroom showdown between Dr. Craig Wright and the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), Dr. Wright is sticking by his claim that he invented Bitcoin under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
Taking place in a London business court that rarely attracts much public attention, the hearing is being overseen by Judge James Mellor, who not only has to deal with Wright’s courtroom dramatics but also misbehavior from the viewing public.
Throughout Wright’s cross-examination, COPA’s lawyer Jonathan Hough combed through the various pieces of evidence Wright has presented over the years to support his claim.
In each instance, Hough cast serious doubts on the authenticity of the documents, highlighting anomalous timestamps and formatting inconsistencies that contradict Wright’s version of events.
The detailed interrogation is part of COPA’s strategy to prove Wright forged evidence. And according to many observers, the strategy is working.
Where Hough poked holes in Wright’s defense, the Australian computer scientist blamed his staff, hackers and various software programs for the documentary inconsistencies.
When asked about Bitcoin transactions initiated by Satoshi, Wright’s memory often failed him. Pressed whether he could provide cryptographic proof of his claim, for example, by demonstrating ownership of one of Satoshi’s private Bitcoin or PGP keys, Wright claimed he lost the hard drive on which they were stored.
Although the evidence Wright has presented to back up his claim looks increasingly weak, COPA’s attempts to undermine Wright’s credibility go even further.
Extending beyond evidence directly related to his Satroshi claim, Hough has sought to paint a picture of Wright as a career liar and serial plagiarizer – the kind of man who wouldn’t think twice about taking credit for someone else’s work and faking evidence to make his story seem more likely.
For his part, even Judge Mellor has at times expressed disbelief at some of Wright’s more outlandish claims and has repeatedly chastised him for rejecting the authority of expert witnesses without good reason.
Yet, as his defense has unraveled, Wright has remained steadfastly committed to his story. “But I am Satoshi!” he desperately proclaimed at one point.
As well as presiding over Wright’s increasingly frantic performance on the witness stand, Judge Mellor has also had to deal with threats to the privacy of his courtroom.
After a photograph of evidence presented during the case was circulated online, a live stream of the hearing has been shut down to prevent further leaks.
The leaked evidence in question was a photograph of Magnus Granath, more commonly known as the crypto influencer Hodlonaught.
The two men have been publicly feuding since 2019 when Hodlonaught posted a series of tweets calling Wright a “fraud” and a “scammer” and labeling him “Faketoshi”.
In response, Wright demanded Granath delete the tweets and acknowledge him as Satoshi. When Hodlonaught didn’t comply, Wright offered a bounty on his identity, doxxed him, and sued him for defamation in the UK.
Like Wright vs COPA, that trial considered whether there was sufficient evidence in support of Wright’s claim for him to sue someone for denying it. Judge Robert Jay ultimately ruled that there wasn’t and Wright’s suit was dismissed.
In another victory for Granath, a countersuit filed in his native Norway found that the tweets were protected under freedom of speech laws and that he had had sufficient factual grounds to claim that Wright had lied and cheated without committing libel.
While Hodlonaught’s name has been known publicly since 2019, until last week he had managed to keep his face off the internet.
However, after he chose to attend Wright’s London trial in person, a photo of Granath was circulated online on Wednesday, February 7.
Referencing the photo during the next day’s opening remarks, Judge Mellor noted that it violated the terms of service for accessing the live stream of the courtroom, which has since been taken offline.