Tornado Cash Developer’s Arrest Sparks Protest in Amsterdam

  • Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev was arrested earlier this month over alleged facilitation of money laundering
  • Privacy advocates worry Pertsev’s arrest could have damaging consequences for open-source coders

Supporters of Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev gathered in Amsterdam to protest over the weekend, almost two weeks after he was arrested in the Dutch capital.

Dutch financial crimes agency FIOD suspects the 29-year-old programmer of facilitating money laundering through the crypto-mixing service. But the agency hasn’t specified under which laws Pertsev was arrested. He is yet to be charged with a specific crime, per the latest available information.

Pertsev’s arrest has sparked widespread backlash among open source developers, and an online petition decrying his detention has garnered almost 2,000 signatures.

DeFi (decentralized finance) aggregator 1inch Network had called on individuals to join a protest rally in Amsterdam’s historic Dam Square, arguing developers, including Tornado Cash programmers, hold no control over how their code is used.

On Saturday, over 50 protesters held placards with slogans including: “Free Alex Pertsev,” “Writing open source code is not a crime,” and, “Will you arrest a gun maker for facilitating public shooting?”

The Change.org petition, created by Helsinki-based product manager Daria Mironova, states the “accusations against Alex threaten to kill the entire open-source software segment.”

US authorities believe Tornado Cash is a primary tool for North Korean hacker crew Lazarus Group in laundering stolen cryptocurrency. 

Earlier this month, the US Treasury sanctioned the mixer’s blockchain addresses, among others, rendering it illegal for US persons to interact with the tool.

The mixer’s front-end web app is now offline, although the actual protocol — which is powered by smart contracts — persists on the Ethereum blockchain.

Pertsev’s wife Ksenia Malik told Cointelegraph last week that she hasn’t got the chance to contact him after authorities took him in.

Malik said she didn’t expected someone could be arrested for writing open source code and expressed gratitude for support shown.


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  • Shalini Nagarajan

    Blockworks

    Reporter

    Shalini is a crypto reporter from Bangalore, India who covers developments in the market, regulation, market structure, and advice from institutional experts. Prior to Blockworks, she worked as a markets reporter at Insider and a correspondent at Reuters News. She holds some bitcoin and ether. Reach her at [email protected]

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