On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held firm against releasing Sam Bankman-Fried, the former FTX CEO. Bankman-Fried’s legal team had made fervent appeals for his temporary release, citing primarily First Amendment issues. However, the court found these arguments unpersuasive.
Previously, a New York district court had denied his request for temporary release to review pertinent documents for his forthcoming October 3 trial. Thursday’s decision further cements his position behind bars.
Bankman-Fried’s Charges and Controversies
The founder of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Bankman-Fried, has been in custody since August. Prosecutors allege that he engaged in witness tampering activities. Specifically, he’s accused of leaking the private diary of his ex-colleague and former girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, to the New York Times. Moreover, he allegedly used an encrypted messaging app to contact another potential witness.
Moreover, the list of accusations is long, including allegations of fraud. The claims suggest Bankman-Fried and other FTX executives misused billions of customers’ funds. These misappropriations supposedly went towards their ill-fated investments.
Consequently, the FTX exchange declared bankruptcy late last year. This collapse and the events leading up to it have created ripples in the cryptocurrency industry, with FTX users and stakeholders waiting eagerly for the trial’s outcome.
Appeals Court Verdict
Besides the charges mentioned, the appeals court found the previous court’s conclusion well-founded. The evidence suggests there was probable cause to believe Bankman-Fried attempted to tamper with witnesses unlawfully. As a result, his request for temporary release to review documents before the October 3 trial was denied.
Additionally, the court noted that speech used to commit a crime, like witness tampering, doesn’t fall within constitutional protection. Hence, Bankman-Fried’s attempt to use the First Amendment as a basis for his actions needed to be improved.
With the trial looming, the drama around this case intensifies. If convicted on all counts, the once-prominent figure in the crypto world could face a prison sentence exceeding a century. For now, though, he remains in custody, with the trial’s outcome yet to be determined.
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