Crypto Twitter Took Center Stage During the First Day of Hodlonaut vs. Craig Wright

If name-calling and bullying is the standard, do words like “fraud” and “scammer” carry the same weight? Hodlonaut’s lawyers say no.

AccessTimeIconSep 12, 2022 at 5:39 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 12, 2022 at 6:41 p.m. UTC

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

OSLO, Norway — The harsh culture of crypto Twitter is the emerging key theme in a legal battle between crypto Twitter personality Hodlonaut and Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientist who has long claimed to be the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin.

The trial, which kicked off here Monday, is one of two simultaneous defamation suits centered around a series of tweets posted in 2019 by Hodlonaut (known in real life as Magnus Granath) – at the time, a public school teacher with less than 8,000 Twitter followers – in which he called Wright a fraud and a scammer.

The seven-day trial seeks to determine whether the tweets in question were protected by freedom of speech in Norway. If Hodlonaut wins, it would mean Wright would be unable to collect damages for libel in relation to the tweets in his lawsuit against Hodlonaut in the United Kingdom.

In their opening statements on Monday, attorneys for Hodlonaut delved into the lore surrounding Satoshi Nakamoto and laid out a history of Wright’s widely disputed claims – and his alleged penchant for forging documents and falsifying evidence – to support his case.

No new evidence, either in regards to Satoshi’s identity or Wright’s alleged fraud was offered during Hodlonaut’s attorney Ørjan Salvesen Haukaas’ opening remarks, which largely consisted of him reading news articles about Wright’s connection – or lack of one – to Bitcoin’s creation off an iPad.

Other evidence offered to District Court Judge Helen Engebrigtsen included documents from previous litigations involving Wright, including the 2021 suit brought by the estate of Wright’s former friend and business partner Dave Kleiman, as well as documents stemming from his 2015 legal trouble with the Australian Tax Office, in which Australian authorities accused Wright of falsifying evidence and fraudulently claiming to be Satoshi.

The climate of crypto Twitter

Things took an interesting turn, however, when attorney Marie Bjørk Myklebust attempted to place Hodlonaut’s tweets about Wright in the broader context of Crypto Twitter.

In their initial complaint, Wright’s attorneys claim that a hashtag created by Hodlonaut in the March 2019 tweets – #CraigWrightIsAFraud – caused “serious harm to [Wright’s] reputation” and “caused [Wright] to suffer injury to his feelings.”

But Myklebust pointed out that, of the thousands of tweets containing a similar hashtag (#Faketoshi) about half were published from November 2018 to March 2019 – well before Hodlonaut’s tweets about Wright.

She went on to read the court a series of tweets from various users calling Wright a faker and demanding he provide cryptographic proof he is Satoshi – as well as his often-vitriolic responses, calling his critics and other well-known figures in the crypto space “losers,” “scum,” “frauds,” “soy boys” and “cucks,” the latter two of which she had to translate into Norwegian for the judge.

“Mr. Wright himself contributes to making a climate with strong words, strong statements,” Myklebust told the court. “He is not interested in objective conversation about his evidence” that he is Satoshi.

On Tuesday, Wright's nine-attorney team will get their chance to make opening statements before the court.

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Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

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