Satoshi Trial Week Three Recap

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  • The COPA vs. Wright trial continued in London this week
  • Both sides saw witnesses examined and Craig Wright was back on the stand
  • Wright’s continual denials have painted a picture of someone with selectively positive memories

This week has seen more back and forth in the COPA vs. Craig Wright trial, which could see Wright anointed by a UK court as Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto. On the flip side, it could also see him confirmed as a fraud and forger of evidence. Let’s catch up and see what has been happening this week, where Wright was back on the stand after his witnesses.

Wright’s Witnesses Confirm Wright’s Satoshi Claims

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday saw the continued cross-examination of Craig Wright’s witnesses, with former colleagues and another family member, his cousin, take the stand. First up was Qudos Bank CIO David Bridges, who recalled his acquaintance with Wright dating back to 2005. Bridges claimed that Wright was perpetually handing him numerous papers and documents, but was unsure if Wright showed him a document referred to as a “criminal whitepaper.” Bridges claimed that Wright discussed a potential interbank payment system akin to blockchain, although he could not remember details about it.

Wright’s cousin, Max Lynam, then took the stand. Lynam reaffirmed his claim, made during previous trials, that Wright ran some software on his family’s computers that he later claimed was in fact Bitcoin mining software. However, Lynam confirmed that Wright did not make this claim until 2011 when the laptops had been destroyed. He also confirmed that while he had seen the Bitcoin whitepaper in an earlier form, he wasn’t certain whether it came from Wright or not.

Stefan Matthews was next up on Monday and into Tuesday, a keen ally of Wright’s in his Satoshi claim since 2015. Matthews was challenged over his story of receiving a copy of the Bitcoin whitepaper from Wright in 2007, given that Wright’s story is at odds with Matthews’, before Matthews was taken through the 2016 signing sessions, where Wright tried and failed to publicly prove his Satoshi claim, in painstaking detail.

Matthews contradicted himself on Tuesday when he agreed that Wright’s 2015 life rights deal was about the history of ‘Satoshi’ rather than the history of nChain, which is Wright’s spurious claim and with which Matthews agreed on Monday.

The most fascinating part of Matthews’ testimony came at the end when he made several allegations about the conduct of former nChain CEO Christen Ager-Hanssen, a situation which to both Wright and Ager-Hanssen leaving the company last September.

COPA’s Witnesses Contradict Wright’s Claims

COPA’s witnesses began with Steve Lee, lead of Spiral, the open-source Bitcoin initiative of Block (formerly Square, the COPA founder). His rather tame questions focused on the membership of COPA, but the following day’s questioning of Adam Back and Mart Malmi promised more interesting fare. Back and Malmi revealed the extent of their early interactions with Satoshi, with Back’s emails confirming that Satoshi first discovered Wei Dai’s Bitcoin precursor ‘B-money’ after Back, rather than Dai himself, pointed him in its direction on 22 August 2008, as Wright had claimed.

Malmi was taken through his introduction into the Bitcoin space, with his statements disputing Wright’s timeline of when the Finnish programmer first approached Satoshi. Malmi also denied Wright’s claim that he, Malmi, had co-founded the dark web marketplace Silk Road, which Wright suggested with no evidence.

Early Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn was questioned over a 2016 dinner he had with Wright, where he denied that he had poached Wright’s IP for a patent filing as was claimed, before Zcash co-creator Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn denied that he had received bitcoins from Satoshi Nakamoto as Wright had also claimed, saying he would remember if his “hero” had sent him coins.

One more interesting witness was Howard Hinnant, who played a key role in the standardization of Chrono and other features in the C++ programming language. He was responding to Wright’s claim to have used his own version of Chrono to write the Bitcoin whitepaper, which Hinnat compared to building a fighter jet from a Mustang car: possible, but “technically outrageous.”

Wright Challenged Over Late LaTeX Files

Wright was back on the stand on Friday for the final time, where his supporters hoped (nay, expected) one or more things to happen: for him to sign a Satoshi block in court, to show where the alleged stenographic watermark on the whitepaper is, or produce some last-minute bombshell evidence to sway the case. Unfortunately, these people seem to have no idea how a court works, with everyone else knowing that Wright was only coming back to face accusations that he faked a bunch of documents submitted at the eleventh hour.

In examining the inconsistencies surrounding Craig Wright’s assertions about the creation of the Bitcoin white paper, several crucial points emerged. Firstly, discrepancies in metadata and document retention, such as creation dates and time zones in the PDFs, led to questions about the credibility of the documents presented by Wright, with even the judge trying to clarify Wright’s position.

Further evidence presented during the trial suggested that, rather than writing the whiteppaer in LATeX as Wright has recently claimed, he used an online tool to convert the PDF into the LaTeX file, a claim Wright denied. Additionally, it was revealed that Wright made extensive edits to the LaTeX files shortly before submission, a fact that was not disclosed in earlier statements.

This late editing raised more suspicions of forgery or manipulation of the evidence, suspicions Wright tried to allay by claiming that he was giving training sessions to his lawyers over his use of LaTeX rather than amending the file. However, Wright’s courtroom explanations often contradicted established computer science knowledge, undermining his technical credibility.

Whenever Wright was faced with questions that he couldn’t explain away he, as usual, blamed hackers for interfering with his evidence in a desire to lose him the case.

Experts to Take the Stand

Next week will see the two chief forensic analysts in the trial take the stand to tackle Wright’s rebuttal of their analysis. Wright has already dismissed the qualifications of all the forensic experts, and indeed all the experts involved in the case whatever their field, by saying they were either biased or incompetent, often claiming that his home experiments have proved their claims otherwise.

Unfortunately for Wright, the judge will use their testimony as fact, and if they are able to successfully argue against Wright’s allegations of malpractice then the situation will be more dire for him than it already is.