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NSA whistleblower urges support legal defense for Tornado Cash developer

nsa-whistleblower-urges-support-legal-defense-for-tornado-cash-developer
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NSA whistleblower urges support legal defense for Tornado Cash developer

Ex-CIA contractor and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has urged to support the legal defense fund for the Tornado Cash developer.

In an X post on Jan. 23, Edward Snowden called for support for the legal defense fund of Roman Storm, co-founder of Tornado Cash, an open-source non-custodial crypto mixing protocol that was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for helping North Korea-affiliated hacking groups launder millions of stolen cryptocurrencies.

In the post, Snowden urged his followers to back Roman Storm amidst the legal challenges, emphasizing the importance of supporting Storm and saying that “privacy is not a crime.”

In a separate post on Jan. 22, Roman Storm himself appealed to his supporters to contribute to his legal defense fund, noting that the outcome of the case “will set a precedent for years to come.” Storm is currently grappling with multiple federal charges related to Tornado Cash and is slated for trial in the U.S. in September 2024.

The legal woes for Roman Storm began with his arrest in August 2023 on charges of conspiracy to facilitate money laundering and operate an unlicensed money transmitter. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Tornado Cash laundered over $1 billion worth of crypto in criminal proceeds.

The other co-founder of Tornado Cash, Roman Semenov, remains at large and is believed to be residing in Dubai. Additionally, Alexey Pertsev, the third developer associated with Tornado Cash, was arrested in the Netherlands in August 2023 following the sanctioning of the privacy tool by U.S. authorities.

Coin Center, a non-profit organization focused on cryptocurrency policy issues, has been actively challenging the sanctioning of Tornado Cash. The organization contends that the restrictions imposed by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) have adversely affected Americans and their ability to transact cryptocurrencies privately.

In October 2022, Coin Center initiated legal action against OFAC over the Tornado Cash sanctions. However, a year later, in October 2023, a U.S. court ruled in favor of OFAC, affirming its authority to include the crypto mixer in its sanctions list.