SBF denies witness abuse amid ex-girlfriend's diary release
August 2, 2023 8:34 AM
Sam Bankman-Fried's lawyers argue that his alleged distribution of Caroline Ellison's journal with the New York Times does not constitute witness tampering.
Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried are disputing that he tried to intimidate witnesses in the course of his trial by speaking to New York Times reporters, and they say that he should not be imprisoned.
In a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan dated August 1, Bankman-Fried's attorneys argued that the prosecution's attempts to revoke his bail and have him jailed are "extremely thin" and mainly depended on assumptions and innuendo.
They also said that the fact that Bankman-Fried had spoken with a reporter from the New York Times wasn't enough to justify keeping him in jail before his trial for fear of intimidating the former CEO of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison.
Bankman-Fried's lawyers say he shouldn't be imprisoned for allegedly contacting a reporter.
Bankman-Fried's communication with reporters was a "proper exercise of the privilege to make fair remarks on an article that was already in progress, considering the reporter possessed alternative sources," the lawyers concluded.
On July 28, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a request to revoke SBF's bail on the grounds that he shared Ellison's journal with The New York Times in an effort to harass and threaten her.
Bankman-Fried's lawyers claimed the government shared Ellison's journal with The New York Times, calling it improbable that the authorities had virtually nothing connected with the article in question.
"The tone of the report itself, which outlines when the US Government will begin organizing its trial witnesses, and mentions documents which weren't given to the journalist by Bankman-Fried, clearly shows it originated from a source," the attorneys argued.
They argued the article, in which Ellison's journal entries expressed feeling overwhelmed by her career, uncertainties, and sadness from her divorce from Bankman-Fried, painted her in a sympathetic light.
Ellison reportedly cooperates with the DOJ after pleading guilty to fraud charges. She is likely to testify against Bankman-Fried in his criminal trial, which is set to begin in October.
On the other hand, while Judge Kaplan muzzles Bankman-Fried and the prosecution over the motion to revoke Bankman-Fried's bail, the defendant is free to travel and engage in legal representation.