Following an August 10 arrest, a Dutch judge has ruled that Alexey Pertsev, a coder tied to crypto mixing service Tornado Cash, must remain in prison for 90 days pending his trial.
On August 8, Tornado Cash was added to the US sanctions list by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). The US Treasury accuses Tornado of having been used to launder over $7B of crypto assets — much of that by North Korean hackers — since its creation in 2019.
Pertsev’s case does not appear to be related to U.S. sanctions. Rather, Dutch officials suggested it was the culmination of an investigation that began in June. “He is suspected of involvement in concealment of criminal financial flows and facilitating money laundering through the mixing of cryptocurrencies through the decentralized Ethereum mixing service Tornado Cash,” the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service said in a statement.
Coindesk reports that Persev was first brought before a judge on August 12, who said that he should be held in custody for an initial period of two weeks. At a closed-door hearing on August 24, Pertsev’s lawyers applied for bail. The court rejected the request for bail and set a 90-day deadline for an initial public hearing to take place.
Since the sanctions on Tornado Cash were first announced, an online movement has risen to its defense. Many Twitter users are using the Tornado Cash logo as their profile pictures. Some are protesting. Others are engaging in acts of civil disobedience by using Tornado Cash to send Ether to celebrities’ wallets.
“OFAC is strict liability and that’s a willful violation (albeit for a civil disobedience cause) so you are talking about a maximum of 30 years in jail and million-dollar fines,” CoinCenter Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh told The Defiant.
Pertsev has still not been formally charged with a crime. With over 2,400 people signing a petition to free Pertsev, the programmer has become a mascot for Tornado Cash and open-source software.