The former Ethereum programmer also known for WikiScanner, Virgil Griffith accepted 63 months in prison i.e he is sentenced to serve over 5 years for violating the United States’ economic sanctions against North Korea.
Griffith was arrested following a trip to the North Korean capital Pyongyang to give a talk at a cryptocurrency conference in 2019. He pled guilty to North Korea sanctions violation conspiracy in September last year after spending approximately two years in custody (14 months on bail and the remainder taken as time served).
The potential sentence would have resulted in a maximum of 20 years in prison. Griffith’s plea deal with FBI prosecutors brought the sentence down to a range of 63 to 78 months and a $100,000 fine.
The accusations include a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), teaching North Koreans how to evade economic sanctions and stash cash to build nuclear missiles that threaten the world.
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said that Griffith intentionally sought to help North Koreans. Griffith’s lead attorney urged Judge Castel’s leniency for the “inhumane” conditions the inmate was living in by prohibiting him from family visits and forcing him to use his sink as a toilet.
Griffith addressed the court saying he “genuinely, arrogantly, and erroneously thought I knew better,” than his loved ones who warned him against going to North Korea. “I’ve learned my lesson,” he said. “I am still profoundly embarrassed that I am here, and of what I have done.”
Castel did not appear to be moved as he said, “The fact of the matter is Virgil Griffith hoped to come home to Singapore or elsewhere as a crypto hero. To be admired and praised for standing up to government sanctions, for his fearlessness and nobility.”