Vitalik Buterin Defends Virgil Griffith’s “Admirable” North Korea Trip

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has shown support for fellow developer Virgil Griffith who is currently under the custody of U.S authorities following allegations that he helped North Korea learn how to evade sanctions.

Last week, U.S authorities arrested Virgil at the Los Angeles International Airport. They alleged that the developer’s trip to North Korea in or around April, where he lectured his audience on crypto and blockchain, was a violation of the IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act), which barred U.S persons from helping sanctioned economies to evade sanctions.

However, fellow developer Vitalik believes the arrest is not justified and that instead of authorities condemning the move, they should borrow a leaf from Virgil Griffith.

Vitalik expressed his thoughts in a series of tweets on Dec 1, pinpointing that the Ethereum Foundation (EF) did not fund Virgil’s travel, even though the trip was worthwhile. Vitalik was responding to a call by Enrico Talin for him to lead a petition to “free Griffith.”

The Ethereum co-founder responded by referencing a tweet where Virgil mentioned that his trip to North Korea was ‘personal,’ even though many counseled against it.

Vitalik then shared his thoughts, alleging that the “geopolitical open-mindedness,” as shown by Griffth’s visit to North Korea, is a virtue. He added:

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 on all sides did that.

Meanwhile, in follow up comments, Vitalik argued that Virgil did not give North Korea “any kind of real help in doing anything bad,” as U.S authorities alleged. 

“He *delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open-source software*. There was no weird hackery “advanced tutoring,” Vitalik wrote in defense of his fellow Ethereum developer.

In conclusion, Vitalik recommends that the U.S focuses on “fighting genuine and harmful corruption that it and all countries struggle with rather than going after programmers delivering speeches parroting public information.”

In a recent related report, Coinfomania noted that North Korea was working on its version of Bitcoin to allow the country to evade economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.

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