Craig Wright Not Defamed by Being Called ‘a Fraud,’ Judge Rules

Magnus Granath, better known as Hodlonaut, sued the self-proclaimed ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ and won

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Source: Craig Wright deleted website

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key takeaways

  • Granath’s statements were primarily inoffensive value judgements, with “a core of allegations of a factual nature,” the Oslo court observed
  • The court chose not to take a position on the question of whether Wright is Satoshi, calling it “unclear”

Craig Wright hoped to convince the world that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, but his dream took a hit Thursday when a Norwegian judge ruled that public comments ridiculing Wright’s claims were not unlawful or particularly offensive.

Magnus Granath, a Norwegian known online under the pseudonym Hodlonaut, called Wright “a very sad and pathetic scammer” and “a fraud” in a series of March 2019 tweets. The tweets were deleted a few weeks later, but not before they raised the ire of the Australian entrepreneur, who has asserted since 2015 — with scant evidence — that he is Satoshi, the pseudonymous writer of the Bitcoin white paper.

Wright’s lawyers threatened to sue in the UK, unless Granath acknowledged Wright as Satoshi. Instead, Granath, the plaintiff in the Norwegian case, sought a judgment that his tweets were justified. 

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“Welcome to law,” is a reference to the closing line of Wright’s own 2019 screed, when he vowed, “I am the person behind the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto, and as a result of all the trolls and haters, I’m going to provide evidence,” using “courts and law.”

At least one court has now declared the evidence still isn’t there. In the ruling by the Oslo District Court, Judge Helen Engebrigtsen concluded that Granath’s statements were not defamatory when weighed against his rights to freedom of expression.

“The court believes that Granath had sufficient factual grounds to claim that Wright had lied and cheated in his attempt to prove that he is Satoshi Nakamoto,” the ruling, in translation from Norwegian, states.

For years, Wright has purported to be the author of versions of the Bitcoin white paper and the bitcoin code that predate the first known edition published by Satoshi in 2009.

Although the court cleared Granath of any liability for his statements and reviewed approximately 11,000 pages of documents, the judge was unwilling to rule on whether Wright was indeed the creator of Bitcoin.

“Both parties in the case have pointed to circumstances that speak respectively for and against Wright being Satoshi Nakamoto,” Engebrigtsen wrote, adding, “The court chooses not to take a position on this, because it has no bearing on the outcome of the case.”

Courts have previously declined to wade into the debate over Wright’s claim to the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto.

However, it was pertinent to the context around Granath’s tweets and, the judge wrote, “the court points out that the evidence brought in the case is not suitable to change the prevailing opinion that Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.”

Wright was ordered to pay Granath’s legal fees amounting to about $385,000. Wright tweeted that he intends to appeal.

The lead attorney for Wright told Blockworks that they “do not agree with the court’s assessment that Granath’s communications were not defamatory in a legal sense,” noting that, “private citizens should enjoy the same protection on Twitter as on other media platforms.”

Wright, who lives in London, still has a pending defamation claim against Granath in England.

An attorney for Granath did not immediately return Blockworks’ request for comment.


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