Cryptocurrency researcher jailed for sharing information with North Korea

Cryptocurrency researcher Virgil Griffith has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for conspiracy. The 39-year-old American has helped North Korea evade US sanctions using cryptocurrency, the ruling reads.

Griffith had to admit in September that he had traveled to North Korea in April 2019, where he gave a presentation at a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference. “The main feature of blockchains is that they are public and that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cannot be kept out, no matter what the US or the UN say,” Griffith said during the presentation, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors also say the investigator knew the information he provided could be used to circumvent sanctions Washington had imposed on North Korea for developing nuclear weapons. The US Department of Justice says Griffith had “endangered US national security by undermining sanctions.”

In addition, the US State Department had not authorized the trip, writes the BBC. Since 2017, US citizens are only allowed to travel to North Korea under strict conditions. The Ethereum Foundation, Griffith’s former employer, says it has not approved or supported his journey either.

In addition to the prison sentence, Griffith fined $100,000. The maximum sentence demanded against the American was 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.