The War On Code Investigating the Tornado Cash Sanctions and the Arrest of Alexey Pertsev

The War On Code: Investigating the Tornado Cash Sanctions and the Arrest of Alexey Pertsev

In August, just a few months ago on these very streets in Amsterdam, armed agents from the Fiscal Information and Investigation service (FIOD) suddenly arrested a man by the name of Alexey Pertsev…much to his own surprise. We do not yet know all the details surrounding his arrest, but what we do know is that he was quickly taken by the police and thrown into jail where he remains today–without charges and without having any contact with his wife or friends…

It feels like the scene of a high-intensity crime film, one where the feds finally capture a long-sought after fugitive. But Pertsev is not that. Pertsev is a programmer that for years has been publicly publishing open-source code, something that is typically protected by free speech laws. The code he wrote alongside others became integral to the privacy tool Tornado Cash, an Ethereum crypto mixer banned by OFAC just days before Perstev’s arrest in August for allegedly facilitating money laundering for criminals, including by North Korean-backed hackers.

This is what brings us here… to the streets of Amsterdam, where our search for answers continuously raises more questions: What is the real motive behind his arrest? Is this about money laundering, or is there more than what meets the eye? And what kind of precedent might this case be set for developers worldwide working on open-source code, for transparency in finance, for privacy, for human rights?

Pertsev though was not the only one to contribute code to Tornado Cash and played no part in the daily operations of the privacy tool. So Who really is Alexey Pertsev and why has he alone been arrested for writing open-source code?

You wouldn’t be able to tell from walking around the charming streets we find ourselves on right now, but something is brewing here in Amsterdam that could have massive ramifications for the rest of the world.