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CRYPTOCURRENCY PROFESSIONALS PERSECUTION SUPPORT

Cryptocurrency Entrepreneurs Face Unfair Persecution, Prosecution, State Harassment & Interpol Abuse

Due Process International has noticed a pattern of wrongful allegations and prosecutions against cryptocurrency professionals in what appears to be a widespread indication of state harassment.  Cryptocurrency professionals are being intimidated into guilty pleas for fear of mistreatment and wrongful convictions that would result in lengthy sentences in appalling conditions.

Subjects have been intimidated into guilty pleas, false statements and witness testimony.  The FBI has misused Interpol's database in order to harass and threaten individuals into confessing to crimes they have not committed.

It is clear the United States and other countries are increasing efforts to persecute and prosecute industry professionals and tech entrepreneurs for their own vested interests.  

VIRGIL GRIFFITH

WikiScanner creator & Ethereum scientist Virgil Griffith

US national Virgil Griffith attended a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea.  A number of foreign nationals grouped together at what they thought was "just another cryptoconference".  Those in attendance were normal industry professionals who frequented international seminars and events.  The topics they discussed at the  Pyongyang blockchain and crypto conference were not new areas of information and were not top secret intelligence.  They were topics already in the public domain.  Griffith decided to contact the US authorities in any case to inform them of the contents of the seminar and to alleviate any concerns they may have had.  Instead, he was charged in 2019 with violating US sanctions in "knowingly providing highly technical information that could be used by North Korea to evade sanctions or launder money".

Griffith maintained his innocence until September 2021 when he shockingly changed his plea to guilty on the first day of trial.  Was he guilty?  "It didn't matter", explained Due Process International CEO Radha Stirling"Griffith had been threatened, intimidated and subjected to appalling prison conditions, with rats sleeping with him in his cell.  This is the same notorious prison where Epstein took his life.  On the night before his court appearance, Griffith heard the screams of a man outside his cell being knifed to death.  In the morning, he stepped over the bloody remains on his way to defend himself in court.  All the while, prosecutors tell him his detention conditions will improve dramatically if he changes his plea.  This is coercion and is almost tantamount to a forced confession. 

 

"There is absolutely no doubt that Griffith would have come under immense pressure to plead guilty from prosecutors and even from his own defence attorneys.  There is nothing more simplistic for all parties than to make a deal.  Griffith faced life imprisonment in abhorrent conditions in a justice system where the outcome is a gamble.  At some point, even innocent people don't want to take the risk, but this means prosecutors get "wins" and it keeps the cycle of intimidation going."

Pyongyang Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Conference - North Korea - Is Virgil Griffith the only US target?

Griffith was charged under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) which according to its own text, only applies to US persons but does that mean that other participants are safe?  "Absolutely not", explains Radha Stirling.  "As we have seen in the case of Julian Assange, the US has set some shocking precedents in the extraterritorial application of its laws.  When other countries expand their laws beyond their borders, we are outraged.  When a country we have never visited, criminalises a Facebook post made from the jurisdiction of another country, we are amazed but when the US does it, we accept it.  The United States can not expect foreign nationals to abide by not only their own laws, but also America's.  But they do, and they keep getting away with it".

In other IEEPA cases, we have seen non US persons plead guilty and this can only come down to intimidation and threats from US authorities.  How absurd it is to plead guilty to a crime that prosecutors would not be able to secure a conviction for at trial.

The FBI has wrongfully applied for the extradition of a non US person under the IEEPA for participation in the Pyongyang conference.  US authorities have deliberately abused INTERPOL's databases by issuing a Red Notice against a non US person for a crime where only a US person can be prosecuted.  "Middle Eastern nations regularly misuse Interpol's database for personal vendettas, harassment and extortion but it is disgraceful to see the US partaking in exactly the types of behaviour we criticise Russia, China and Saudi for", added Interpol Expert Witness Ms Radha Stirling.  "Participants and organisers of the Pyongyang conference are at risk of being placed on the Interpol database and of arrest in the US.  This is not a threat to be taken lightly", explains Stirling, "the US is not just looking for a single scapegoat, but rather an increased number of crypto related convictions to show the effectiveness of their new task force".

AUTHOR ETHAN LAU DISCUSSES VIRGIL GRIFFITH CASE

ROSS ULBRICHT

Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, from Texas, was sentenced to two life sentences without parole at the young age of 26.  Silk Road was essentially an e-commerce platform that used Bitcoin as its primary payment mechanism.  US authorities discovered the platform was being used for normal business dealings and product sales, but also misused for drug sales.  Rather than simply prosecuting the drug offenders, prosecutors sought to hold Ulbricht himself responsible, for providing a tech platform that was ultimately misused, even though that was not his intention.

Ulbricht, now 38 years old, made an emotional plea in a video interview released to Bitcoin magazine.  The campaign to release him #FreeRoss, has attracted significant support from governors and law practitioners who have noted his sentence is extremely harsh and unjustified.

"The sentencing discrepancies in the US are remarkable", said Radha Stirling.  "We are talking about non violent offenders spending their entire lives in prison for what appears to be a little reckless entrepreneurship.  It's near impossible to keep up with ever changing regulations while trying to create and compete in a constantly moving marketplace.  There was no intention on behalf of Mr Ulbricht to assist in the facilitation of any criminal activity and it is a travesty that he has spent his adulthood in prison with no sign of release.  Meanwhile, genuine criminals misusing his platform have already been released.  How does that make sense?"

  

PRESS RELEASE: CRYPTOCURRENCY ENTREPRENEURS FACE UNFAIR PERSECUTION, PROSECUTION, STATE HARASSMENT & INTERPOL ABUSE

Due Process International vows to end the ruthless persecution of crypto professionals who are forced to enter guilty pleas after unconscionable harassment - 3 April 2022

The United States government continues to target individuals involved in the cryptocurrency development, business and education sectors, casting a wide net over industry professionals and using harassment and intimidation to cause victims to plead guilty and provide witness statements against other industry professionals. With the threat of hefty sentences, prosecutors hope their targets will plead guilty to crimes they haven’t even committed in return for lesser sentences.

Due Process International is representing one such client who is not subject to US law, is not a US person or citizen and did not violate any law in their own country. Yet, the US has misused Interpol’s database to issue a Red Notice against him, hoping that he will be intimidated enough to provide testimony against an alleged co-conspirator that he incidentally met only once at a crypto conference, along with dozens of others. “Abusing Interpol’s membership is not uncommon”, says Interpol & Extradition Expert Radha Stirling, “but when we speak of Interpol Abuse, we are usually condemning countries like the UAE, Saudi, Qatar, China, Russia, Korea and Venezuela. There is an initiative in DC to hold Interpol legally accountable for allowing the continued wrongful reporting of individuals, given the human rights violations that victims are subjected to such as wrongful imprisonment abroad. If the US is actively misusing the database themselves to harass and extort victims, we are going to see opposition to any accountability movements in the States”.

The sentencing discrepancies for crypto related prosecutions have been outrageous as we clearly see in the case of then 26 year old tech entrepreneur, Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht created an exchange platform called ‘Silk Road’ and was sentenced to two life sentences without parole because some customers used the tool to pay for illegal goods.  Ulbricht finally spoke out about his incredible case.

Ethereum researcher Virgil Griffith entered a guilty plea in New York for violating sanctions after attending a conference in North Korea. Griffith had maintained his innocence up until September last year when he chose to plead guilty after undoubtedly succumbing to pressure from lawyers and prosecutors. Griffith is hoping for a reduced sentence, but there is significant industry concern that he was subjected to undue influence. His sentencing will be announced soon.

Stirling continued, “What has been clear in many cases is that the US system will unscrupulously charge and threaten to prosecute industry professionals with the flimsiest of evidence which is too unsubstantial for a conviction but when faced with life imprisonment in abysmal conditions while being offered a plea bargain, most lawyers will recommend their innocent client take the deal. Prosecutors are relying on this, charging victims with very serious and inappropriate crimes, hoping they will plead guilty so the prosecutor gets an easy win and a nice promotion. This kind of harassment has seen victims essentially confess to crimes they haven’t committed which in turn encourages the practice to continue. We’ve all seen A Few Good Men and while Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee starts out looking for easy plea deals, he eventually sees that justice should not be seeking to ‘close cases’ but should be seeking the truth.

“It is clear that industry professionals are being maliciously targeted by the US and other governments and that there is very little support. Their reputations have been slandered, their assets looted and they've been harassed using the corrupt Interpol organisation. Interpol is now under the direction of the United Arab Emirates General Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi who has been accused of human rights abuses and torture, further diminishing the organisation’s credibility.

“The United States seeks to intimidate small fish into providing testimony, even if false, against big fish.”

Due Process International (DPI) is collating evidence to assist victims facing unfair trials, wrongful prosecution and imprisonment, and to end this unconscionable state ordained conduct. “The State relies upon individuals feeling they’re on their own, separated from any alliance so they can go in for the kill. That’s going to end”, said Due Process International CEO, Radha Stirling.  

CHRISTOPHER EMMS

 

30 year old Crypto expert Chris Emms, from Reigate, Surrey, has found himself stuck in Saudi Arabia, fighting extradition to the United States who have accused him of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) despite not being a “US person” and thus not subject to the legislation. After the Julian Assange case, the US has been emboldened to further push for the extraterritorial application of US laws to foreign nationals even where legislation specifically only applies to Americans.


Once a keen theatre director, Emms was drawn to technology early on and began his career heading up sales for the first ever crypto debit card issuer. Emms then built TokenKey, an innovative company offering off the shelf Initial Coin Offering (ICO) solutions, and became a highly sought after expert, advisor and consultant to governments, including Her Majesty’s.
Emms' notoriety landed him a leading position as head of partnerships and business development with Bitcoin.com, working directly for owner Roger Ver.

PRESS RELEASE: US SEEKS EXTRADIDITION  OF BRITISH NATIONAL  RE CRYPTOCURRENCY CONFERENCE: THE  CASE OF CHRISTOPHER EMMS
 

The US has issued an Interpol Red Notice against Chris Emms for allegedly violating US sanctions against North Korea (DPRK). Emms is currently held in Saudi Arabia as he fights against the US extradition request. The US has cast a wide net over blockchain professionals in an attempt to make an example of them but in doing so, has displayed what can only be described as “State Harassment”.


30 year old Crypto expert Chris Emms, from Reigate, Surrey, has found himself stuck in Saudi Arabia, fighting extradition to the United States who have accused him of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) despite not being a “US person” and thus not subject to the legislation. After the Julian Assange case, the US has been emboldened to further push for the extraterritorial application of US laws to foreign nationals even where legislation specifically only applies to Americans.


Once a keen theatre director, Emms was drawn to technology early on and began his career heading up sales for the first ever crypto debit card issuer. Emms then built TokenKey, an innovative company offering off the shelf Initial Coin Offering (ICO) solutions, and became a highly sought after expert, advisor and consultant to governments, including Her Majesty’s.


Emms' notoriety landed him a leading position as head of partnerships and business development with Bitcoin.com, working directly for owner Roger Ver.


The blockchain expert has been a prominent speaker on regulatory issues and a broker and consultant for companies with blockchain and web3. The highly motivated entrepreneur went on to open the first ever Kosher food distribution company in the Gulf, significantly investing into the region and giving him the opportunity to play a crucial role in the Abraham Accords, working and educating businesses in the GCC on Jewish customs and relations alongside the UAE Israel Business Council.


“In 2018, I was travelling frequently and presenting all over the world almost every other week”, explains Chris. “When Spanish national Alejandro Cao de Benos asked me to go to North Korea for another conference, I checked the FCDO travel advice for North Korea which indicated no issues and so I agreed to attend. With Trump’s meetings, it also appeared the relationship between the countries was improving. It was an uneventful few days with like minded people, just like any other.”  Virgil Griffith was supposed to be the only speaker but they ran out of content to cover the two days and began asking other attendees to fill in the gaps. “I was asked to speak briefly about topics I have spoken about publicly before, the content was nothing new or secret and I had absolutely no idea that I could ever be accused of any wrongdoing”.


Mr Cao De Benos asked Emms to enquire if other industry peers would be interested in attending and listed Emms’ name on the conference website as a speaker. Emms commented “I did not see any issue with this. “I had checked whether there were any restrictions on me as a British citizen and there were none”.


Emms attended the event and was asked to speak along with US citizen Virgil Griffith and others whom he had not met until the first day of the conference. On the day of arrival though, all attendees had their belongings rigorously searched and Argentinian POAP founder, Patricio Worthalter, was accused of possessing a pornographic video on his laptop. This put the whole group on edge whose passports were confiscated as a result. They feared a small step out of line could lead to their detention. From that moment on, attendees were very aware of their language and conduct during the trip, ensuring not to inadvertently offend the hosts. Emms described the visit as a sort of “tourist propaganda event” where attendees were escorted to schools and museums with local guides. They weren’t allowed to interact with North Koreans and other than the guided tours, they were not even allowed to leave the confines of their hotel.


In preparation, Mr Cao de Benos provided them with a number of documents and asked the speakers to incorporate the content that was obtained from publicly available google searches. Mr Cao de Benos had mistakenly listed Emms as an organiser of the event but Emms had no role as an organiser at all and he was not consulted or asked to be included on the website.. Emms confirmed, “I did not perform any organisation of the event, I did not have authority to do so and was careful not to do so”.


Emms spoke at the conference, covering information that can be found freely on the internet to which North Koreans have access to. “We were even shown libraries where this information could be accessed”, recalls Emms. Emms provided no information that could have helped the government evade US sanctions against them and no information that was secret nor unavailable on Google.


Emms was relieved when the conference he branded “uneventful and boring” was over. He returned to the UK later that month but was “shocked” to be taken aside on arrival and questioned in relation to the conference. He dutifully cooperated but it bothered him. Wanting to ensure there would be no further issues, he telephoned the British Intelligence Services hotline to clarify anything that was of interest to them, but they were not interested in pursuing the matter. Emms put the matter to rest and continued with his business and travels until he was made aware that another speaker in November 2019,  Ethereum founder Mr Virgil Griffith, had been arrested. Griffith was accused of violating the IEEPA by providing information to North Korea. Griffith professed his innocence, but was under enormous pressure to agree to a plea bargain in return for a reduced sentence.


Given his previous interactions with British authorities, Emms thought it prudent to engage a US representative to contact authorities on his behalf to see whether they had flagged any issues. They had no interest in liaising until 2021 when it became clear they were building a case against him. Emms was aghast. It seemed impossible. He hadn’t done anything wrong. Why would he be prosecuted by the US when he had not violated any British or international laws? He wasn’t a US citizen or US person. How could this be? Emms was not going to surrender to the US under these circumstances but informed the British authorities that he would happily cooperate with them or surrender himself in the event that they felt he had committed a crime. “You couldn’t ask for a more reasonable and cooperative subject”, said Radha Stirling, who is representing Mr Emms. “I could never advise anyone to surrender to a foreign jurisdiction that has no legal authority to prosecute them. This would be endorsing an overreach of powers and the extraterritorial application of laws to foreign nationals who are not subject to them. If another country like China or Russia attempted to do this to a British citizen, we would be outraged. We can not accept double standards simply because it’s America, for that would set a dangerous precedent”.


Comforted that the UK was satisfied Emms had not violated any laws, he continued life as normal, but he didn’t know the US often goes to extreme measures to pursue targets. He expected they would consider him of trivial interest. Emms did not count on Interpol being used as a mechanism to secure him abroad, so when he travelled to Saudi Arabia for the LEAP tech conference, he had expected to be in and out in a matter of days but then his nightmare began.


When Emms checked in for his return flight on the 4th of February 2022, his passport raised an alert and he was taken to the airport detention facility. He was held in a cell with around fifty other people before being cuffed and shackled and taken to an interrogation centre where he was put in front of two prosecutors. Emms was told the US had requested his extradition and asked whether he would agree to surrender or not. Terrified by the news and not knowing what would happen next, Emms promptly declined the offer and was given bail. His family and friends expected the worst, telling Stirling “It’s unimaginable that anyone could treat Chris like a criminal when all he’s done is attend a seminar.  Chris is the gentlest and most loving person anyone could hope for in their lives.  He has always been studious and ethical. Even the British government respects and seeks his expertise and he’s never violated any law, ever. What he and we are going through is the worst stress of our lives. It would be a crime against humanity for America to be able to just take our loved ones and plonk them in jails notorious for human rights violations when the laws don’t even apply in the UK! I can’t believe it and I pray for the US to drop any case against Chris. Don’t put him through this. The British government needs to stand up for its people. We are not American, we are British and if we have committed no crime in Britain or under international law, how can the UK allow the US to do this?”  Emms and his supporters intends to lobby the government to help prevent the extraterritorial enforcement of US law against British citizens.


Mr Emms has now been held in Saudi for nearly three months at significant expense and under extremely stressful conditions. Since hiring US lawyers, Emms has spent his life savings on lawyers with bills amounting to hundreds of thousands. Criminal investigations and extradition proceedings are not cheap. IPEX Reform founder, Radha Stirling says “sometimes governments issue Interpol warrants purely to harass, punish, extort or pressure victims. This kind of ‘Interpol Abuse’ is outrageous. The FBI is fully aware that the IEEPA does not apply to non-US persons, but has reported him to Interpol with the flimsiest of evidence I’ve ever seen. If they are aware the Act does not apply to him, why have they reported him to Interpol? It can only be described as State harassment. They ‘persuaded’ a reluctant Virgil Griffith to enter a guilty plea and they want another body in the grave. This is America’s opportunity to send a message to crypto professionals that “we can get you anywhere”. It’s highly suspicious that the Interpol Red Notice only came to light while Chris was in Saudi Arabia. We have to consider that they may have gone jurisdiction shopping and wanted him held in Saudi rather than the UK as this would put Chris at a disadvantage.”


Foreign nationals have been charged under the IEEPA but they have been detained in the US and ended up pleading guilty to ensure they didn’t risk a life sentence. No foreign national has been successfully prosecuted under this Act. American ‘justice’ relies largely on intimidation.


US authorities finally sent a communication to Saudi Arabia outlining the allegations against Emms.

The US accused him of violating the IEEPA by:


Accusation 1: Supplying visa advice to Virgil Griffith;


Emms did not give visa advice to Virgil Griffith. Emms met Griffith at the event and was in no way involved with encouraging him to attend the event or organising his attendance.


Accusation 2: Organising the Pyongyang event;


Emms did not organise the event and nor did he have any authority to do so. Emms did not act in any way that could be construed as organising the event. The event was organised by DPRK and their Spanish representative.


Accusation 3:Providing information to DPRK that would assist in circumventing sanctions, specifically showing a whiteboard drawing that displayed a smiley face with “no sanctions” written there.
 

Emms provided only information already available in the public domain and that he had previously given at other conferences. There was nothing new or illicit about his content and he was not responsible for the whiteboard drawing that the US has included as their “evidence”. It is not even his writing but that of Griffith’s which they have already presented as evidence against him.


The charges are essentially bogus and a far reach for the FBI. “If only the FBI went to such extents when US yacht Nostromo was attacked and US citizens kidnapped”, commented Stirling who has been surprised at the FBI’s tenacity in persecuting crypto professionals.


Emms has taken the time in Saudi to go over the Pyongyang conference again and again. “We were not treated as friends of North Korea. Our passports were confiscated and before leaving, I underwent an interrogation and had a full room search. It wasn’t pleasant. If I have violated the laws of the United Kingdom, I am more than willing to admit guilt and face the consequences of my actions. However, after having in-depth conversations with officials and legal counsel in the US, Saudi and the UK, I am confident I’m not guilty of any crime of which the US has accused me and I will be fighting for justice.


Emms has made it abundantly clear that he was not associated with Griffith, was not an organiser, “co-conspirator” or advisor. Emms was not aware of Griffith’s conduct prior to the conference nor about any of his apparent attempts to engage in business with North Korea. “This is not a matter that I in any way condone should he not have permission from the relevant authorities”.


Family and friends of Chris told Stirling “Chris has used his knowledge to help the church increase transparency, harnessing the power of blockchain to empower the poor in developing worlds. He’s always been actively involved in the community and encouraged respect and diversity. That’s why he did so well with the Abraham Accords too.  He won’t plead guilty to supporting the Korean regime. As tempting as it is when you are afraid, it’s never the right thing to do. He believes in fairness and transparency and that doesn’t include allowing yourself to be bullied, even if it is by the United States of America”.


Stirling intends to fight the charges all the way, “Authorities threaten and intimidate victims into guilty pleas and promise lighter sentences and better prison conditions. These are not the indicators of a fair judiciary, these are issues that we criticise regularly in countries like the UAE, China and Russia. It is disappointing to see these authoritarian patterns in Western nations and right there in New York.


“We will rigorously fight against extradition.”

PRESS RELEASE: EXTRADITION OF BRITISH CRYPTO EXPERT TO USA WOULD CHALLENGE UK SOVEREIGNTY

A British crypto expert faces extradition from Saudi to the US but lawyers and academics claim this would be a violation of international law as it impinges on the sovereignty of Britain.


The US has increasingly sought to apply its own laws universally with increasing vigour. Just a short while ago, it was concerning when countries like Australia wanted to charge citizens with conduct in another country. The implications at the time were extremely concerning. Not only were people suddenly subject to the laws of the country they were visiting, but they were also subject to their own country’s laws. Although there was significant concern about the universal application of a country’s laws, the public was subdued with promises that it would just get “the real baddies, mostly child abusers”.


Fast forward a couple of decades and we are seeing the very “slippery slope” analysts foresaw in the early days. Once the precedent for extraterritorial laws was accepted and experimented with, it didn’t take long for those powers and laws to be expanded. The US has been the worst offender.


The Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to indict in absentia British national Christopher Emms alleging that he violated US sanctions against North Korea when he visited the country to attend a cryptocurrency conference that another US citizen attended. The 30 year old crypto expert, an advisor to British regulators and a frequent speaker, violated no British laws nor international laws when he attended the conference, but the DOJ listed Emms on Interpol’s Red Notice database during his visit to Saudi and has applied for his extradition under the IEEPA, a statute that specifies it only applies to “US persons”.

 

“After consultation with lawyers in the UK, Saudi and the US”, extradition expert Radha Stirling who is assisting Emms explains, “we are disappointed the US would challenge the sovereignty of the United Kingdom in seeking the extradition of a British citizen who has not violated any British or international laws.


“If Saudi Arabia were to agree to the extradition request, they would also be in violation of international law and UN principles respecting sovereignty. The US has absolutely no right to apply their laws universally to foreign nationals and expect countries to surrender them. If Saudi and the UK do not stand up to this expansionist authoritarian mindset, they better start teaching US law at British schools”.
 

At the time of the conference, the US President and his advisors had visited North Korea and were seeking to strengthen their relationship and perhaps even forge a friendship. “It was a different time”, Mr Emms recalled “the British foreign office saw no issues with citizens attending the conference and I made sure to check the advice in advance”

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Stirling has called on the British government to request the dismissal of the indictment and extradition request, to preserve UK sovereignty, uphold international law and protect citizens against state harassment and legal abuse.