Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Donates 30 ETH to Support Tornado Cash Devs’ Legal Defense

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin donated 30 ETH, valued at around $113,000, to support the legal defense of Tornado Cash developers Alexey Pertsev and Roman Storm through the decentralized fundraising platform Juicebox.

According to the on-chain data, the transaction from an address linked to Buterin, named vitalik.eth, was made at 1:58 am EST on May 30 to the “Free Alexey & Roman” legal fund on Juicebox, which had raised 595.82 ETH, worth approximately $2.2 million.

Open Source Is Not a Crime

Crypto veterans, including Buterin, have consistently championed privacy tools for managing crypto assets privately. Buterin has published numerous papers on enhancing Ethereum’s privacy. Hence, his move is not surprising.

Other supporters have shown solidarity by attaching messages of encouragement to their donations. Underneath their contributions, phrases like “you have our support,” “code is not guilty,” “support freedom,” and “Open source is a form of free speech that everyone deserves” resonate strongly.

This isn’t the first time Buterin has donated to a similar cause. In 2022, he contributed 10 ETH (valued at $30,980 at the time) to a legal fund ‘AssangeDAO’ on Juicebox, supporting Australian activist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Legal Trouble for Tornado Cash Bosses

Tornado Cash is a privacy-focused tool that facilitates anonymous crypto transactions. However, its potential for misuse has led to it being exploited by criminals to launder, hack, or steal funds. This illicit activity caught the attention of law enforcement, leading the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to impose sanctions on Tornado Cash in August 2022.

Shortly thereafter, Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev was arrested in Amsterdam for allegedly hiding criminal financial flows and facilitating money laundering through the controversial Ethereum mixing service.

A year later, other developers – Roman Storm and Roman Semenov – were charged with aiding in laundering $1 billion, with Storm arrested in Washington State. Pertsev was sentenced to 5 years and 4 months in prison earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Storm remains detained in the US since his arrest in 2023, with his trial scheduled for September.

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