Vitalik Buterin defends Virgil Griffith, who spent over six years in prison

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, paints a moving picture of his friendship with former collaborator Virgil Griffith. Buterin credits Griffith with shaping his own worldview as well as the culture of the Ethereum Foundation.

Vitalik on Virgil

Vitalik Buterin has joined the list of people who have asked the New York court to show Virgil Griffith some leniency.

Griffith was arrested in November 2019 and charged with violating U.S. sanctions laws after speaking at a North Korean conference in April this year. He has pleaded guilty and reached an agreement with federal prosecutors. He has been imprisoned for 6.5 years.

Buterin wrote to District Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York about his seven-year friendship with Griffith, whom he met in 2013. In 2018, he began working with Griffith on blockchain research. Griffith has since become a developer for Ethereum.

Buterin writes about Griffith’s benevolent and calm character. This kindness, Buterin wrote, “left a lasting legacy in the Ethereum Foundation and the wider community” of the project, but also in Vitalik itself.

[Griffith] also left deep personal changes in me.

– wrote Buterin.

His attitude and actions over the years have helped me develop an openness and a focus on collaboration that guides my actions to this day, in ways that were not in my personality five years ago.

– he explained.

Buterin also described Griffith’s curiosity about other cultures, which led him to move to Singapore in 2016 and his work to bring Ethereum into line with Islamic financial law.

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