January 25, 2024

Developer of Tornado Cash Appeals for Support in Video Amid Legal Battle

Roman Storm, the second developer of Tornado Cash to face arrest following Alex Pertsev, is seeking assistance through a video posted on January 22.

Both open-source developers of Tornado Cash are currently grappling with legal charges brought against them by their respective authorities.

In the video, Roman Storm, based in Chicago, recounts a recent FBI raid on his home and his subsequent arrest, emphasizing the need for support. Despite cooperating with U.S. authorities, Storm asserts his innocence and expresses his determination to mount a robust defense not only for his family but also to set a precedent for the protection of software developers and financial privacy.

Storm underscores the broader implications of his case for open-source development and privacy protocols. In a plea for financial aid, he encourages donations through JusticeDAO, a platform established to assist in legal battles for decentralized protocols like Tornado Cash.

Tornado Cash, an Ethereum mixer designed to enhance privacy in Ethereum transactions, has been under global regulatory scrutiny since 2020, facing allegations of facilitating financial crimes such as money laundering. The defense maintains that Tornado Cash developers have not been involved in any financial crimes themselves.

Renowned figures in the cryptocurrency community, including Bankless founder Ryan Sean Adams, have expressed support for Storm and Pertsev, with Bankless contributing $10,000 to their cause. Viktor Bunin, a protocol specialist at Coinbase Cloud, and Jordi Baylina, a Polygon zkEVM developer, have also shown solidarity, emphasizing that this fight extends beyond individual developers to the entire industry.

Baylina, in particular, stresses the importance of privacy as a fundamental value, echoing internationally recognized human rights principles. Edward Snowden, who shares a commitment to freedom of expression in the open-source world with the Tornado Cash developer, shared the plea for help, emphasizing that "privacy is not a crime".

Remarkably, while the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognize privacy as a fundamental human right, financial privacy remains a contentious issue, often subjected to regulations and law enforcement actions by UN-affiliated governments.

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