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Ethereum researcher Virgil Griffith granted bail in North Korea case

Celia Wan

Ethereum research scientist Virgil Griffith, who was arrested for allegedly assisting North Korea in bypassing U.S. sanctions, will be released on bail. 

According to an Inner City Press report, Judge Vernon Broderick of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Griffith bail on Monday. His bail is conditioned on his family having secured a $1 million bond, and Griffith will be allowed to return to Alabama with his parents as "moral suasion," per Inner City Press. 

Last week, the research scientist was denied bail due to his text messages to his parents about renouncing his U.S. citizenship and setting up a money laundering business in North Korea. In the court, Griffith's lawyer Brian Klein argued that Griffith did not actually renounce his citizenship and that he was charged with not money laundering but sanction violations. 

Klein also mentioned that Griffith has been suspended from the Ethereum Foundation, although the Foundation is in support of Griffith, according to Inner City Press. 

Griffith was arrested on Thanksgiving Day after traveling to North Korea to attend a blockchain conference, despite the U.S. Department of State's denial of his application to travel to the country. U.S. authorities alleged at the time that Griffith and other attendees "discussed how [North Korea] could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions."

Griffith has been charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI for violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. 

Klein did not respond to a request for comment by press time.