Edward Snowden says ‘privacy is not a crime’ — asks support for Tornado Cash legal defense

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Edward Snowden has endorsed the legal defense fund for Roman Storm, co-founder of the once popular but now sanctioned cryptocurrency mixing service Tornado Cash.

Snowden asked his followers to pitch in to help Storm, who is currently facing money laundering charges for his part in creating Tornado Cash. Storm announced on X that he would launch a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) campaign to raise money for his legal defense.

Tornado Cash was a popular crypto mixer that allowed users to send and receive Ethereum anonymously. However, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the platform. It banned US citizens from using the service, claiming criminals use it to launder dirty money.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) subsequently added Tornado Cash to its list of Specially Designated Nationals. This led to the arrest of Alexey Pertsev, co-founder and developer of Tornado Cash, in the Netherlands in August 2022.

In August 2023, the US Department of Justice arrested Storm, with a trial expected sometime this year. Meanwhile, Roman Semenov, another Tornado Cash co-founder, has been charged.

The fundraiser’s website is called “We Want Justice DAO” and is incorporated as JusticeDAO, Inc. According to the site, the arrests of Storm and Pertsev are considered “a direct attack on the open-source development space,” given how this might serve as a precedent for regulators to overreach with their authority. The site also said this “may have devastating consequences for developers who write and publish code.”

Aside from Snowden, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin donated 12.6 ETH to the fundraiser. Bankless founder Ryan Adams also responded to Snowden’s tweet, saying that the campaign was not a battle for crypto.

“It’s a battle for our fundamental freedom to write software and keep our data private. We lose this, maybe they come for https next,” Adams said.

Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since being charged by the US government with espionage in 2013, has long been a privacy and crypto advocate. Snowden was also involved in the creation of ZCash, a privacy coin. 

At the time of writing, the Free Pertsev & Storm fundraiser page on JuiceboxDAO has received 177 ETH, worth roughly $400,000 at current prices.

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