A three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is currently considering the release of former FTX CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), from jail prior to his October trial. Lawyers representing SBF presented arguments to the panel on September 19. One of the judges expressed skepticism about SBF’s defense team’s First Amendment argument, stating that it “has no play anymore” due to allegations of witness intimidation.
SBF’s lawyers argued for his release, citing the need for internet access to prepare for trial. They also claimed that the U.S. District Court made an error in denying their First Amendment arguments. It was revealed that SBF had previously admitted to releasing Caroline Ellison’s private journals to a New York Times reporter, resulting in the publication of some of its contents. Ellison is the former CEO of Alameda Research.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon acknowledged that there have been internet issues during SBF’s confinement but argued that he had sufficient time to prepare his case. She stated, “The incident with Ms. Ellison shows an intent to interfere with a fair trial. The judge was correct to say the 1st Amendment had nothing to do with it. It was tampering.”
SBF claimed that his time in jail violated his First Amendment rights and hindered his ability to adequately prepare for his trial, which is scheduled to begin on October 3. His lawyers initially appealed for his release on September 6, but the request was denied, leading to the current appeal to the three-judge panel. The panel’s decision on SBF’s release is pending.
The October trial will be the first of two for SBF. The first trial will focus on seven fraud charges related to his management of user funds at crypto exchange FTX and Alameda. The second trial, set to begin in March 2024, will address five additional criminal charges.
This is a developing story, and additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
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