The U.S Judge, Kevin Castel has dismissed Virgil Griffith’s prayer asking the court to throw out suits filed against him, accusing him of conniving North Korea to evade U.S. sanctions. The judge also rejected the defendant’s motion seeking further details of the alleged crime he was accused of.
On Friday, the judge ruled on the defendant’s plea seeking to terminate the accusation filed against him, alleging that he disobeyed the U.S. ban on crypto transactions with North Koreans. Last year Dec., Griffith’s lawyer argued that his client was not aware of the offense he was accused of committing. He accused the prosecutors of hiding the details of the suit.
The Judge Throw Out Griffith’s Motion
Castel rejected the prayer, requesting the jury to take over the case and determine if the defendant was guilty of aiding North Korean entities to bypass U.S. sanctions on crypto transactions. The government representative prosecuting the case accused Griffith of violating the law when he delivered a lecture last year April at a North Korean summit on different ways to evade US sanctions using crypto assets. Yesterday, Castel also refused to grant the defendant’s request for the details of the suit filed against him.
This is the first of such crypto sanction lawsuits in the U.S. It is being monitored closely by stakeholders in the crypto world. This is so because the judgment will clear the coast on the government’s decision towards similar cases. Note that the U.S. keeps including alleged violators of such North Korean sanctions into its watched lists.
In 2017, the U.S prohibited Americans from visiting North Korea except with approval from the State Department. The judgment delivered today showed that Griffith’s request to travel to North Korea was first turned down but eventually approved after explaining his reasons and submitting the necessary documentation.
Griffith’s Lawyers Kick
The defendant’s lawyers have claimed that he is not guilty of the crime as he didn’t get any financial reward for the speech he made. They based their argument on the first amendment right. They argued that the prosecutors failed to prove that Griffith received payment for the address.
The suit stated that the defendant conspired to offer DPRK some services. But the prosecutors countered that the act itself was against the law. Either Griffith expected reward or not. In October 2020, his lawyer prayed that the court strikes out the charges against him for failing to provide the allegations’ details.
According to Klein, Griffith’s lawyer, the U.S government lacks the power to ban the dissemination of information. Even no government agency had issued a clear guideline on what should be termed as a service in the sanction legislations.
The lawyer argued that the prosecutor’s postulaition that the defendant’s attendance at the crypto summit in North Korea to provide service was false. He argued that what he did was merely to disseminate information and participate in discussions concerning the use of crypto technology to bypass the U.S. sanction and money laundering law. He added that the knowledge he shared in the program was already known to people and never a secret.