You’ve probably heard about the case involving Alex Pertsev, the developer who was arrested for writing the code behind Tornado Cash, a tool that enables Ethereum users to mix their coins with strangers to help protect their privacy.
While I don’t know all the facts about the case, here’s what I do know. Pertsev wrote open source code to give people greater privacy and now he’s sitting in jail despite not having been charged with any specific wrongdoing.
I question what he even did that could be considered wrong. Why is he being punished? You can argue Tornado Cash was used by the North Koreans all you want, but to do what? To buy more food for their people? Even if some dictator did use it to launder his money, how is that the fault of Pertsev.
Every year you hear about major banks being fined billions of dollars for money laundering. But you never hear of anyone being arrested in connection with those fines. Even if Pertsev profited from Tornado Cash, which I don’t believe he did, but either way I don’t see how that matters. If a drug dealer uses a certain type of boat to smuggle cocaine into the US, does that put the boat manufacturer at fault?
Pertsev has been in jail since August, and at this point he’s probably wondering if he’ll ever get out at all. Simply because he used his ability to write code in order to create something that others might find useful. We’re not talking about a weapon, we’re talking about a tool, one that can be used for good and bad like any other tool.
I believe this is an important case that not enough people are talking about. I’m not an influencer, but I want to draw attention to Pertsev’s case because I can only imagine if that were me. I can imagine what my wife and kids would be going through if no one spoke up on my behalf while some foreign government had me detained simply for something I wrote.
If you support the work of open source software developers, if you support the freedom to write code, or the freedom to transact in cryptocurrencies, please share Alex Pertsev’s story. Tag people who you think can help draw more attention to this case. I hope this case doesn’t just swept under the rug, because it matters whether you support crypto or not. First they came for Alex, but eventually they could come for you.
More information along with ways you can help can be found at https://setalexfree.nl/.