American Computer Expert Arrested at LAX After Speaking About Cryptocurrency in North Korea
Can an American’s comments about cryptocurrency violate his country’s sanctions against North Korea?
That question is at the heart of a criminal case against Virgil Griffith, a rabble-rousing computer scientist who federal authorities say ran afoul of U.S. laws meant to isolate and punish the rogue state when he gave a talk this year at a technology conference in Pyongyang.
Griffith, 36, was taken into custody by FBI agents Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport and faces a charge of conspiring to violate the International Economic Powers Act, the legal backbone for sanctions against North Korea, according to a statement released by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which is pursuing the case.
At a court appearance in Los Angeles on Monday, a magistrate judge ruled Griffith should go free while the case against him proceeds. Griffith was released on an $800,000 bond, which his parents and sister agreed to secure with their homes as collateral. His movements will also be monitored electronically. No date was set for his next court appearance.
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