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Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Declares Solidarity With Arrested Virgil Griffith

The co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin has declared his solidarity with Virgil Griffith, the American citizen arrested for training on blockchain in North Korea.

On Dec 1 Vitalik shared a link of a blog post to start a petition in support of Griffith. The blog is penned down by blockchain firm CEO Enrico Talin.

I refuse to take the convenient path of throwing Virgil under the bus, because I firmly believe that that would be wrong. I'm signing. Reasoning below. — vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 1, 2019

In declaring his support, Vitalik disclosed a “conflict-of-interest” insofar as Griffith is a friend of his.

0. Prefacing with two points. [i] Conflict-of-interest disclosure: Virgil is my friend, [ii] this whole thing has nothing to do with EF. EF paid nothing and offered no assistance; it was Virgil's personal trip that many counseled against — vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 1, 2019

He also emphasized that the Ethereum Foundation had provided no assistance to his trip and was not affiliated with Griffith’s personal decision, one that, Buterin claims, “many counseled against.” He further added:

“Geopolitical open-mindedness is a *virtue*. It’s *admirable* to go to a group of people that one has been trained since childhood to believe is a Maximum Evil Enemy, and hear out what they have to say. The world would be better if more people on all sides did that.”

Vitalik further states that he does not believe Griffith gave the DPRK “any kind of real help in doing anything bad” having only purportedly delivered a presentation based on already publicly accessible, open-source software. “There was no weird hackery “advanced tutoring,” Vitalik further argues that “Virgil made no personal gain” from his visit.

Mixed Reactions From Crypto Community

Vitalik’s arguments met a mixed response on twitter with some pointing to Griffiths’ decision to travel to the DPRK despite been denied permission to do so by the State Department.

Participation in Immutable Transparency Has not one huckin thing to do with empowering governments. Governments are THE PROBLEM. If Virgil wants to play with governments he gets what he deserves. POWER TO THE INDIVIDUAL. All for One – One for All — Michael J Slattery (@mikjames) December 2, 2019 Virgil was denied permission by the US Dept. of State to travel to NK yet he went anyway. Case closed – he willingly and knowingly violated law and will likely serve an extremely long sentence because he is stupid. — WhiteRabbit (@WhiteRabbitBTC) December 1, 2019

A contradiction was further made on Vitalik’s comments that whether open-source or not, sophisticated code requires considerable skill and proficiency to serve as the basis of successful implementation. 

Just because it's public in open source software doesn't mean North Koreans are technically proficient enough to read the code and figure out how it works. Even skilled programmers have trouble with this (hence the need for documentation). — ko₿.eth aka ko₿EOS (@CryptoKobe) December 1, 2019

As previously reported, North Korea is reportedly developing its own cryptocurrency that would help evade international sanctions.

Source: Cointelegraph | Twitter | Image: Flickr



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