This is an opinion editorial by Elsa Waldorf.
On September 12, 2022, a seven-day trial will begin in Oslo, Norway between Craig Wright and the pseudonymous Bitcoiner, hodlonaut.
Wright’s name might be familiar to readers, as well as the “space cat” hodlonaut on Twitter. This article will provide an overview of why this case is important beyond the names involved. The team at Defending BTC, a community campaign to fundraise for legal fees, researched the case timeline to gather a play-by-play on the story so far and bring the reader up to speed on the details of the case.
Craig Wright’s Claims Of Inventing Bitcoin
Over the years, different people have come forward and claimed they were Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous individual or group that published the Bitcoin white paper in 2008 and launched the network to the world in 2009. Though many have claimed they were Nakamoto, no one has definitively proven such claims to the satisfaction of the Bitcoin community and thus, Nakamoto’s identity remains a mystery. (Without getting too much into the weeds, there are a few simple actions that would help to prove identity — but no one has actually made those moves.)
More recently, lawsuits have arisen surrounding the claims — or the questioning of the claims — that certain individuals have made about being the real identities behind Nakamoto.
Craig Wright is one of those individuals. He has been claiming that he is Nakamoto both in and out of court, having pursued a number of legal proceedings with various European bitcoiners. Most recently, Peter McCormack, host of the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast and owner of the Real Bedford Football Club, has been engaged in legal action with Wright — the court ruling in that case was released on August 1, 2022.
U.K. High Court Judge Martin Chamberlain ruled that McCormack’s comments caused “serious harm” to the reputation of Wright, but also that Wright “advanced a deliberately false case and put forward deliberately false evidence.” As a result, Wright was entitled to recover only nominal damages of 1 British pound (about $1.23).
Wright Vs. Hodlonaut: Timeline
On the Craig Wright vs. Hodlonaut situation, there are actually two cases happening concurrently. On one front, hodlonaut filed a declaratory statement against Craig Wright in Norway and on the other, Craig Wright filed a libel suit against hodlonaut in the U.K. What follows is a timeline of the cases — italicized text corresponds to the former case whereas text in bold corresponds to the latter.
Not a mega-famous pseudonym on Twitter (having recently gone from around 4,000 to about 8,000 followers as a result of the Lightning Trust Chain), on March 16 and 17, 2019, hodlonaut tweeted a series of tweets about Wright. On March 29, 2019, Wright responded to hodlonaut with a legal notice. Wright filed the following complaint against Hodlonaut in these public court documents.
Wright, along with Calvin Ayre and Ontier legal, put a $5,000 in BSV reward out for hodlonaut’s identity. CoinGeek, founded by Ayre, published this article promoting the reward. This potential reward drew both Twitter attention and in-person surveillance, according to hodlonaut. This was where the #weareallhodlonaut movement originated, a social campaign that has seen countless Twitter users change their handles and tweet out hashtags in support of hodlonaut.
Per hodlonaut, a private investigator located his place of employment, posed as a police officer on the phone to get personal details/contact information and then contacted hodlonaut saying that he has documents for hodlonaut to sign. After declining to sign/surrender more information, hodlonaut filed a declaratory judgment (in Norway) that he was not liable to pay damages to Wright (in response to the Twitter legal notice).
According to hodlonaut, Wright filed a libel lawsuit against hodlonaut in the U.K.
Wright filed to have Norwegian proceedings dismissed.
Hodlonaut filed a U.K. application to dismiss proceedings due to lack of U.K. jurisdiction in light of the fact that the same cause of action proceedings were already pending in Norway.
A Norwegian judge ruled against Wright’s application to dismiss the Norwegian case that hodlonaut filed.
A U.K. hearing on hodlonaut’s application to dismiss the U.K. case was held, hodlonaut tweeted.
Hodlonaut wins the application to dismiss the U.K. case and U.K. proceedings are dismissed.
According to hodlonaut, Wright appealed the ruling on his request for dismissal in Norway.
Wright applied for permission to appeal the dismissal ruling in the U.K., hodlonaut tweeted.
A U.K. judge approved Wright’s application to appeal, per hodlonaut’s Twitter.
The Norwegian court of appeals denied Wright his request to have the Norwegian proceedings dismissed, per hodlonaut’s Twitter.
Hodlonaut tweeted that a U.K. court hearing on Wright’s appeal of its dismissal was held.
Wright appealed to the Norwegian supreme court to have the Norwegian proceedings dismissed, per hodlonaut.
The Norwegian Supreme Court dismissed Wright’s appeal ensuring the Norwegian case will continue, per hodlonaut.
Judges ruled to allow Wright’s appeal and U.K. proceedings to go ahead on the grounds that these proceedings do not involve the same cause of action (because hodlonaut initiated the Norwegian case) and hodlonaut reported that he is ordered to pay £168,000.
Hodlonaut’s application for a hearing seeking summary U.K. judgment against Wright is approved (to dismiss the case due to no serious harm), per hodlonaut.
A U.K. hearing on the application for summary judgment on preliminary issues (no serious harm) is held, per hodlonaut.
U.K. judgment ruled that no serious harm was taken against Wright’s reputation, and the judge dismissed the application. Hodlonaut is ordered to pay £112,000 in adverse costs, per hodlonaut.
Hodlonaut and Craig Wright will have their seven days in Norwegian court.
And that brings us to where we are today. A community-led fundraiser to raise support for hodlonaut’s legal defense has been created. For more information, visit defendingbtc.com and @defendingBTC.
Beware of scammers — hodlonaut is not directly asking for funding in private messages.
This is a guest post by Elsa Waldorf. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.