Ethereum researcher Virgil Griffith’s trial to start in September 2021

Virgil Griffith, the Ethereum researcher accused of aiding North Korean government officials to evade sanctions, will stand trial starting September 2021, a New York court has ruled.

Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York ruled, “A conference is set for September 7, 2021 at 9:30 am in Courtroom 11D 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY. For reasons stated on the record, time is excluded in the interest of justice under the Speedy Trial Act through September 7, 2021 to allow both sides to discuss a resolution of this matter and review discovery.”

If either Griffith or the prosecutors oppose the September 7 trial date, they must submit in writing their reasons for the opposition before December 30, 2020.

U.S. authorities arrested Griffith in November 2019 after he returned from attending a blockchain conference in North Korea. They claimed that he had violated the IEEPA, an act that prohibits U.S. citizens from offering any good or service to countries that the U.S. government has imposed sanctions on.

While setting the date for the trial, Judge Castel also granted Griffith’s motion to compel discovery of material in the possession of the Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC), stating:

“Defendant’s motion to compel discovery of material in the possession of OFAC is GRANTED to the extent that the government is directed to conduct a review of material in the possession of OFAC for the period from October 24, 2019 to the present that is related to Mr. Griffith’s prosecution; the government shall disclose any materials that must be disclosed to the defendant consistent with the government’s obligations.”

The Judge, however, deferred ruling on Griffith’s motion to compel a search of files of some government agencies regarding the blockchain capabilities of North Korea. He ordered Griffith’s legal team to meet with the prosecutors and agree on a stipulation. They shall then submit this stipulation to the court no later than January 25, 2021.

Griffith’s lawyers have insisted that the prosecutors’ case against the Ethereum Foundation developer is ‘fatally flawed.’ In their most recent motion, they claimed that Griffith is not even aware of what crimes he is charged with. They claimed that despite the government presenting 6,800 pages of discovery, it’s all vague and none points to the exact crimes he allegedly committed.

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