NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – A cryptocurrency expert was sentenced on Tuesday to more than five years in federal prison for helping North Korea evade US sanctions.
Virgil Griffith, 39, pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year, admitting he presented at a cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang in 2019 even though the US government denied his request to travel there.,
Griffith, a well-known hacker, also developed “cryptocurrency infrastructure and equipment inside North Korea,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. At the 2019 conference, he advised over 100 people – including many working for the North Korean government – on how to use cryptocurrencies to avoid sanctions and gain independence from the global banking system.
The United States and the United Nations Security Council have imposed tough sanctions on North Korea in recent years to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The US government amended sanctions against North Korea in 2018 to prohibit “an American person, wherever located” from exporting technology to North Korea.
Prosecutors said Griffith admitted that his presentation amounted to a transfer of technical knowledge to conference attendees.
“Griffith is a US citizen who chose to evade the sanctions of his own country by providing services to a hostile foreign power,” prosecutors wrote. “They did this knowing that the power – North Korea – was guilty of atrocities against its own people and made threats against the United States, citing its nuclear capabilities.”
Defense attorney Brian Klein described Griffith as a “brilliant Caltech-trained scientist who developed a curiosity bordering on obsession” with North Korea. “He saw himself – albeit arrogantly and naively – as acting in the interest of peace,” Klein said. “He loves his country and is never ready to do any harm.”
Klein said he was disappointed by the 63-month prison sentence, but “the judge acknowledged Virgil’s commitment to moving forward productively with his life, and he is a genius who has much to contribute.” Something is there.”
A self-described “disruptive technologist,” Griffith became a tech-world horrific in the early 2000s. In 2007, he created WikiScanner, a tool intended to expose people who anonymously edited entries in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
WikiScanner can essentially determine the businesses, institutions or government agencies that owned the computer from which certain edits were made. It quickly identified businesses that had sabotaged competitors’ entries and government agencies rewriting history, among other findings.
“I am very pleased to see the mainstream media enjoying the public relations disaster fireworks,” Griffith told the Associated Press in 2007.
Klein previously said that Griffith cooperated with the FBI and “helped educate law enforcement” about the so-called dark web, a network of encrypted Internet sites that allow users to remain anonymous.