Tornado Cash dev Alexey Pertsev battles in court to get out of jail

Tornado Cash dev Alexey Pertsev battles in court to get out of jail
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Software developer Alexey Pertsev was found guilty court of money laundering in May. Credit: Darren Joseph/DL News.
  • Alexey Pertsev is hoping to be released from detention while preparing for his appeal.
  • The Tornado Cash developer will need to continue to argue for his release next month.
  • Last month, Pertsev was found guilty of laundering $2.2 billion.

Convicted Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev is fighting to be released from prison as he prepares his appeal.

A court hearing took place on Thursday in the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch where Pertsev and his defence argued that his detention should be suspended.

“He needs digital facilities,” Pertev’s lawyer Keith Cheng told DL News.

“If he cannot have basic things like internet connection, access to BlockExplorer, or confer with experts, then he is obstructed by being in detention to prepare for his case.”

Cheng noted that detention overrides Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights describing an individual’s rights to a fair trial.

No decisions were made on Thursday. The panel of three judges is set to decide whether Pertsev should be released in a hearing scheduled for July 11.

But first, Pertsev’s defence will need to present which parts of his case require online access.

Pertsev will remain in pre-trial detention for 120 days, said a spokesperson for the ‘s-Hertogenbosch Court of Appeal, unless the court’s chamber agrees he can be released in July. Otherwise, an additional hearing will be scheduled during the detention period.

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Pertsev filed an appeal shortly following his guilty verdict in May. He was found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to 64 months in prison.

“This case is important not just for him but also for the community,” Cheng said on a phone call. “He does not want to disappoint his supporters and developers in a similar situation or those who are in suspense due to his case.”

The court and prosecution would also benefit from Pertsev’s blockchain expertise to help explain complicated technological details, Cheng said.

Flight risk

Cheng also argued that Pertsev doesn’t present a flight risk, as his circumstances haven’t changed since the last time he was released from jail in April 2023.

Tornado Cash’s software was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in August 2022. Pertsev was arrested by Dutch authorities days later.

The decentralised protocol provides Ethereum users with anonymity by obfuscating transaction histories.

Pertsev spent eight months in jail before he was released under surveillance ahead of his trial in March. Those months are reduced from his sentence.

When the judges delivered his verdict last month, Pertsev was immediately detained and sent to a prison in the Netherlands.

During his trial, Pertsev and his defence argued that he wasn’t responsible for how third parties abused the open-source protocol that runs on automated smart contracts.

Criminal organisations, including North Korean cybercrime groups, used Tornado Cash to launder $2.2 billion from crypto hacks.

A second Tornado Cash developer, Roman Storm, will stand trial in New York in September.

Updated on June 14 to include comment from the ‘s-Hertogenbosch Court of Appeal.

Inbar Preiss is DL News’ Brussels correspondent. Contact the author at inbar@dlnews.com.

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