Whistleblower turned international fugitive Edward Snowden today backed and endorsed the legal defense fund for the Tornado Cash founder.
In a Tuesday post on Twitter, the exiled former CIA contractor asked followers to pitch in to help Roman Storm, co-founder of the once popular but fatally sanctioned cryptocurrency mixing service.
Yesterday, Storm said on Twitter that he would launch a campaign—in the form of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)—to raise money for a lawyer. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice arrested Storm and charged him with money laundering for his part in the creation of Tornado Cash.
Tornado Cash was a popular cryptocurrency coin mixing application that allowed users to anonymously send and receive Ethereum, the second largest digital asset by market cap.
But the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2022 banned Americans from using the service, claiming that criminals had used it to launder dirty money.
They then alleged that Storm and his colleague Roman Semenov laundered more than $1 billion in criminal proceeds. Developer Alex Pertsev was also arrested.
But the new fundraiser’s website argues that “the arrests of Roman Storm and Alex Pertsev are considered a direct attack on the open-source development space and may have devastating consequences for developers who write and publish code.”
“If you can help, please help,” Snowden said in a retweet of Storm’s plea. “Privacy is not a crime.”
Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since being charged by the U.S. government with espionage in 2013, has long been a privacy and cryptocurrency advocate.
He said last year that the sanctioning of Tornado Cash was “deeply illiberal and profoundly authoritarian.”
Snowden also helped create the privacy coin Zcash and has spoken about how people should use cryptocurrencies rather than buy them as an investment.
Snowden has also pointed out Bitcoin’s privacy problem. The biggest cryptocurrency by market cap is pseudonymous: a user’s identity isn’t recorded on the blockchain but every single transaction is.
Authorities are, therefore, able to track down people who send and receive the digital coin if necessary.
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.