tstorm.png
Thursday July 9th, 2020 4:24PM

US says cryptocurrency expert violated NKorea sanctions

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have charged a cryptocurrency expert with violating economic sanctions against North Korea by presenting at a conference there this year after the U.S. government denied his request to travel to Pyongyang.

Virgil Griffith, 36, was awaiting a federal court appearance Friday in Los Angeles, a day after he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport.

Griffith is an American citizen but lives in Singapore. Messages were sent to Griffith's defense attorney seeking comment.

Federal prosecutors said Griffith secured a visa through “a (North Korean) diplomatic mission facility” in Manhattan for 100 euros and then traveled to the country through China in April.

A request for comment was sent to North Korea’s United Nations mission in New York.

At the conference, Griffith talked about how North Korea could use cryptocurrency to “achieve independence from the global banking system,” according to a criminal complaint.

The conference was attended by 100 people, prosecutors said, including several who appeared to work for the North Korean government.

The criminal complaint says Griffith showed the FBI photographs of himself in North Korea and provided agents with propaganda from the country. It said Griffith planned to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency between North and South Korea and encouraged other U.S. citizens to attend the same conference next year.

“Griffith announced his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship and began researching how to purchase citizenship from other countries,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said in a news release.

Prosecutors say another person involved in the alleged conspiracy was to be brought to New York and arrested. That person is not named in the criminal complaint against Griffith.

The U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, said Griffith “provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions.”

Griffith has contributed to the hacker magazine 2600, which tweeted Friday that Griffith’s arrest amounted to “an attack on all of us.”

“I kept warning him it was a trap,” the magazine’s editor, Emmanuel Goldstein said in a separate Twitter post, adding Griffith “insisted on” speaking to the FBI without a lawyer. “What’s ironic is that afterwards, he was convinced they totally got where he was coming from.”

The U.S. and the U.N. Security Council have imposed increasingly tight sanctions on North Korea in recent years to try to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang says it wants the U.S. to get the sanctions lifted and provide security guarantees before North Korea will abandon its advancing nuclear arsenal; the U.S. has said the North has to take substantial steps toward denuclearization before the sanctions will come off.

The U.S. government amended sanctions against North Korea in 2018 to prohibit “a U.S. person, wherever located” from exporting technology to North Korea. Prosecutors said Griffith acknowledged that his presentation amounted to a transfer of technical knowledge to conference attendees.

A self-described former hacker who went on to get a doctorate in computer science, Griffith became something of a tech-world enfant terrible in the early 2000s. He told The New York Times in 2008 that he considered himself a “disruptive technologist.”

In 2007, he created WikiScanner, a tool that aimed to unmask people who anonymously edited entries in Wikipedia, the crowdsourced online encyclopedia. WikiScanner essentially could determine the business, institutions or government agencies that owned the computers from which some edits were made.

It quickly identified businesses that had sabotaged competitors' entries and government agencies that had rewritten history, among other findings.

"I am quite pleased to see the mainstream media enjoying the public-relations disaster fireworks as I am," Griffiths told The Associated Press in 2007. (Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales, for his part, said he welcomed WikiScanner as a tool of transparency.)

Four years earlier, as a college student at the University of Alabama, Griffith and a student at another university were about to tell a hacker conference about purported security flaws in a widely used campus debit card system when the manufacturer sued the two. They had posted online about ways to exploit the alleged flaws to get free vending-machine sodas, laundry machine use and more.

A judge barred the students from discussing the card-swiping system. In a settlement a few months later, they apologized to the company, promised to never actually build a transaction-processing device and agreed to complete 40 hours of community service.

___

Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Powerful storm threatens to disrupt busiest travel weekend
A powerful storm stretching from California to New England is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend.
2:54PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Black Friday kicks off scramble in a shorter shopping season
A shorter holiday shopping season means a more intense scramble for both retailers and customers
2:27PM ( 33 minutes ago )
10 animals killed in barn fire at Ohio wildlife park
Officials in Ohio say at least 10 animals have been killed in a barn fire at a wildlife park
12:53PM ( 2 hours ago )
U.S. News
Brazil’s president criticizes DiCaprio over Amazon fires
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday said actor Leonardo DiCaprio had funded nonprofit groups that he claimed are partly responsible for widespread fires in the Amazon rainforest this year
2:49PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Second-half surge carries No. 5 Maryland over Harvard 80-73
Cowan scores 20, leads surge that carries No. 5 Maryland past Harvard 80-73
2:27PM ( 33 minutes ago )
The Latest: 4 more anti-government Iraqi protesters killed
Iraqi officials say four protesters were killed amid ongoing violence in Baghdad and southern Iraq, hours after Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi announced his intention to resign
2:02PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Evacuation order lifted as huge Texas plant fire ‘contained’
Authorities in Texas say a massive chemical plant fire that rocked a Gulf Coast town with two major explosions is finally considered contained after two days
1:44PM ( 1 hour ago )
Flames coach Bill Peters quits; accused of slurs, abuse
Calgary coach Bill Peters resigns amid allegations of slurs, player abuse in previous jobs
1:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
London police shoot suspect dead after ‘terrorist’ stabbings
A man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people before being tackled by members of the public and then shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge, police and the city’s mayor say
1:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Markets Right Now: Stocks pull back from record highs
Stocks ended an abbreviated session of trading with losses after sharp drops in oil and gas prices dragged down energy companies
1:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Gas station strike paralyzes Lebanon as crisis deepens
Angry motorists have closed roads in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon paralyzing entire areas with traffic jams to protest a strike by owners of gas stations who are demanding an increase in gasoline prices
1:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
Berlin’s much-delayed new airport to open Oct. 31 next year
Berlin’s much-delayed new airport has a new opening date: Oct. 31, 2020
12:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Powerful storm threatens to disrupt busiest travel weekend
A powerful storm stretching from California to New England is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend.
2:54PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Black Friday kicks off scramble in a shorter shopping season
A shorter holiday shopping season means a more intense scramble for both retailers and customers
2:27PM ( 33 minutes ago )
10 animals killed in barn fire at Ohio wildlife park
Officials in Ohio say at least 10 animals have been killed in a barn fire at a wildlife park
12:53PM ( 2 hours ago )
Fears about worker shootings prompt new business tactics
Fear of workplace violence at Oklahoma City company leads to new law, guide for employers
10:01AM ( 4 hours ago )
Somalia burial planned for Minnesota high-rise fire victim
A daughter of a woman who was killed in a fire at a Minneapolis public housing high-rise is making plans to hold her funeral in Somalia
8:04PM ( 18 hours ago )