A legal fund supporting the defense of Tornado Cash developers Roman Storm and Alexey Pertsev has amassed over $350,000 in contributions and gained public backing from Edward Snowden, the former NSA whistleblower.
Tornado Cash has been linked to North Korean hackers and the $600 million Ronin Network attack money laundering.
Tornado Cash Legal Defense DAO Campaign
Yesterday, Storm announced on X his intention to launch a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) campaign to raise funds for legal representation.
Storm, one of the developers behind Tornado Cash, is facing money laundering charges by the U.S. Department of Justice, with a trial expected in 2024. Another developer and co-founder, Roman Semenov, also faces charges but has not been arrested.
2024 is the year that will define the rest of my life.
Honestly, I’m scared. But also hopeful that this community cares with a passion.
Please donate towards my legal defense.https://t.co/dQ7SCBesIm pic.twitter.com/0jeievSUxc
— Roman S (@rstormsf) January 22, 2024
Tornado Cash gained popularity as a cryptocurrency coin mixing application, enabling users to send and receive Ethereum anonymously, the second-largest digital asset by market cap. However, in 2022, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) banned Americans from utilizing the service, alleging that criminals had exploited it for money laundering.
Subsequently, Storm and Semenov were accused of laundering over $1 billion in criminal proceeds, leading to the arrest of developer Alexey Pertsev. The newly initiated fundraising campaign asserts that the arrests of the developers constitute a direct assault on the open-source development space, potentially having severe consequences for those who contribute code to public projects.
Storm expressed concerns about the impact on his life: “2024 is the year that will define the rest of my life. Honestly, I’m scared. But also hopeful that this community cares with a passion. Please donate towards my legal defense.”
Snowden Endorses Tornado Cash Developer’s Legal Defense
In a retweet, Snowden endorsed Roman Storm’s plea for support, stating, “If you can help, please help. Privacy is not a crime.”
If you can help, please help. Privacy is not a crime. https://t.co/R4vauNLRB4
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 23, 2024
Snowden, who has been in exile in Russia since facing espionage charges by the U.S. government in 2013, has long advocated for privacy and cryptocurrencies. Last year, Snowden criticized the sanctions imposed on Tornado Cash, describing them as “deeply illiberal and profoundly authoritarian.”
Snowden, who played a role in creating the privacy coin Zcash, has consistently emphasized the importance of using cryptocurrencies for privacy rather than solely as investment instruments. While acknowledging the pseudonymous nature of Bitcoin, he has also highlighted its privacy challenges, noting that although user identities aren’t recorded on the blockchain, every transaction is traceable.