U.S. Citizen Virgil Griffith has been brought into custody and is being charged with violating economic sanctions by traveling to North Korea to give a presentation on cryptocurrency earlier this year.
Griffith, who is a resident of Singapore, gave the presentation at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference in April. U.S. authorities did not give him permission to go into the hostile nation, and the topic of his speech was reportedly how to use crypto to get around crippling economic sanctions.
“Despite receiving warnings not to go, Griffith allegedly traveled to one of the United States’ foremost adversaries, North Korea, where he taught his audience how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions. By this complaint, we begin the process of seeking justice for such conduct,” said John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
Griffith is being accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The federal charges stem from Executive Order 13466, “Continuing Certain Restrictions With Respect to North Korea and North Korean Nationals,” which was issued by President George W. Bush on June 26, 2008.
“Mr. Griffith allegedly traveled to North Korea without permission from the federal government, and with knowledge what he was doing was against the law,” wrote FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
“We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk. It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary,” he added.
Due to President Donald Trump’s budding friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, there has been a renewed push from Washington D.C. to slap draconian economic sanctions on the destitute communist country.
Analysts note that the financial system, managed by bureaucrats and globalists, has many hurdles keeping North Korea from being able to advance from their beleaguered state.
“Although an easing of sanctions imposed on the North because of its nuclear weapons program is necessary, it is not sufficient for the North to gain full access to the global capital market,” a report from the Korea Society stated, according to a Reuters report.
“Concentric layers of U.S. and international financial prohibitions, including concerns over money laundering and the integrity of North Korea’s regulatory system, would have to be peeled away,” it added.
Cryptocurrency is one way for North Korea to escape the confines of the globalist financial system, which is why federal authorities are intent on making an example of Griffith and others seeking to liberate the North Korean people. The U.S. is also cracking down on North Korean hacking outfits, sanctioning them back in September.
Griffith, who is a member of the Ethereum Project, faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.