US Citizen Facing 20 Years in Prison for Teaching Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

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by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:

If the US government suddenly began a bombing campaign on North Korea which killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children, this would be considered an act of war. However, if the US government intentionally targets these same men, women, and children with economic sanctions — that kill thousands civilians though starvation and illness — this is considered “diplomatic” and a peaceful resolution.

Despite US citizens becoming accustomed to hearing their government talk about placing sanctions on various countries, the death and destruction caused by them are still horrific and very real.

Sanctions are enforced knowing that one of two things will happen. They are deliberately meant to withhold food, medicine, or resources from citizens of a country to cause horrible suffering and death in hopes of causing an uprising and forcing the citizens to oust their current regime. Or, if the sanction-led death toll among the citizens isn’t bad enough to cause the citizens to rise up, then the sanctions are meant to force the regime to change its own policy.

Sadly, no matter what happens, the citizens of the country targeted by sanctions become pawns in the process. These sanctions lead to their death and suffering no matter if they force government change or not. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea are estimated to have died in just the last year due to the “collective punishment” inflicted on them via US sanctions.

Although they are not actually dropping bombs, when the US government puts sanctions on countries, the death toll is often just as bad or worse. So, when countries or citizens attempt to circumvent these sanctions, it is no different than getting out of the way of a bomb. Virgil Griffith, a cryptocurrency advocate, likely knows this and attempted to help the citizens of North Korea avoid suffering by teaching them the power of the blockchain to evade these sanctions.

Because cryptocurrencies allow people to act outside of central bank-controlled currencies — which is how many sanctions are enforced — they are an enemy of the state. For this reason, Griffith was arrested by the DOJ recently for doing nothing other than presenting information on cryptocurrency and blockchain inside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK” or “North Korea”).

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:  “As alleged, Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions. In allegedly doing so, Griffith jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime.”

When reading the above statement from Berman, one would be inclined to believe Griffith was some spy secretly meeting with the government of DPRK to wage some economic war on the US. But this was not the case. He was attending an event open to the public and merely presented information at the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.”

Griffith was arrested because he failed to get permission from the US government to attend the conference. What’s more, the people of North Korea could have benefited from this technology by using it to circumvent their own tyrannical government. Instead, however, they will now be deliberately kept in the dark thanks to the United States who claims teaching North Koreans cryptocurrency would allow them to build nukes.

“Mr. Griffith allegedly traveled to North Korea without permission from the federal government, and with knowledge what he was doing was against the law. 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,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said.

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