Stupid Things Craig Wright Said in His Latest Stupid Trial

During his cross-examination, lawyers for the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) tried to ensnare the Satoshi Nakamoto pretender in a web of lies.

AccessTimeIconFeb 15, 2024 at 10:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:39 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconFeb 15, 2024 at 10:23 p.m. UTCUpdated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:39 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconFeb 15, 2024 at 10:23 p.m. UTCUpdated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:39 p.m. UTC

Over the course of nearly 30 hours of cross-examination, Craig Steven Wright, the Australian man who claims to be Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, has been raked through the coals. The self-described computer scientist, economist, cryptographer, patent writer, author, lawyer, pastor, master of martial arts and mathematician (in other words: fabulist) has been accused of misrepresenting facts, told by the judge to stay on topic and silenced by his own lawyers.

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For years, Wright has been harassing and threatening Bitcoin developers and users, filing libel suits and gag orders, after claiming ownership of the intellectual property behind the world’s first cryptocurrency. And it’s that “chilling effect,” that the nonprofit Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) was trying to shut down when it filed suit in 2021 — the most aggressive attempt yet to settle once and for all that Wright is not what he says he is.

Jonathan Hough, COPA’s lead lawyer, argued in his opening statement that over the past eight years, ever since Wright came into the public eye, he has committed fraud on “an industrial scale.” During the cross-examination, which wrapped up Wednesday, Hough accused CSW of forging or manipulating documents related to the development of Bitcoin and misunderstanding the basics of the system Wright supposedly built.

That said, the burden is on the plaintiffs to prove Wright is wrong. And Wright, who has been described as (largely) calm and articulate in the courtroom, certainly has convinced people in the past (including his benefactor, billionaire online gambling magnate Calvin Ayre). For many onlookers, however, the case has already been made: Wright, by taking the stand, simply discredited himself. There have been too many inconsistencies, too many happenstances and too much misdirection to be believed.

The trial is expected to go until mid-March. For now, CoinDesk has collected some of the most bizarre, asinine and head scratching moments from the case so far.

The 'unusual features of Dr. Wright’s behavior'

The opening statement from Wright’s lawyers, given by Lord Anthony Grabiner, was almost an indictment in itself. Put in the tough position of explaining Wright’s reluctance to show how he can interact with any of the millions of Bitcoin linked to Satoshi (thus easily proving his right to the Satoshi mantle), Grabiner said it was down to “philosophical differences.” Apparently Wright’s “unusual” behavior of flip flopping on whether to sign a transaction, as he pledged to do in 2016, would conflict with Wright’s “core belief” in privacy. Putting aside that Wright lives a very public life, Wright has also criticized the pseudonymous aspects of crypto, saying it’s part of the reason Bitcoin has become a hotbed for crime.

Computer science 101

Wright, who claims to be working towards five PhDs, apparently does not know the very basics of coding. During a cross-examination by Alexander Gunning KC asking about PGP keys and cryptography, Wright was asked about “unsigned integers,” (used essentially to determine whether a string of data will have a + or – prefix), and wasn’t able to. Longtime crypto advocate Michael Parenti noted the unsigned integer function was used over 500 times in the original Bitcoin source code. What was meant to be a routine line of questioning to enter basic facts into the record about the Bitcoin source code may be the single moment remembered for years to come.

As @bitnorbert, who has been following the trial, said on X’:

“HE COULDN'T EXPLAIN WHAT AN UNSIGNED INTEGER IS.

“If you're not a programmer, perhaps you don't appreciate what a basic thing this is. An average first-semester computer science student should be able to explain this. The judge, with his computer science background, certainly can. This is like having someone who says they're a mathematician not being able to explain what multiplication is.”

Weird insecurities

Wright likes to make himself out to be a workaholic. At one point in the trial he said he has written three patents so far that week, during lunchtimes — on Feb. 13 alone he “wrote two papers.” Thankfully, he has given the courtroom a little insight into what drives him to work tirelessly.

“I keep being told by other people what I can and cannot do. I keep being told I am useless by others. This is one of the reasons I keep getting all these degrees,” he said on the last day of his cross-examination.

If you were thinking that Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin in an attempt to better the world, think again. It turns out that he actually had a huge chip on his shoulder and an emptiness inside.

Why lie?

In 2020, Wright published a blog titled “As an Autistic Savant…” that made the case that he was telling the truth about inventing Bitcoin because he had Aspergers (a diagnosis that was retired from the Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013).

“Lying is not something I do easily or well, and my behavior is not a mark of deception but rather normal for autistic individuals. I am brutally honest, but also incredibly precise,” he said.

It’d be too much to list every inconsistency brought up in the trial — the main strategy of the COPA legal team has been to force Wright to account for the hundreds of indications of forgery and manipulation found by a forensic evidence expert in emails, documents and computer files submitted into evidence.

But to take just two striking examples where he wasn’t exactly “precise” with his language, at one point Wright claimed he did not have a Reddit account and has never used the popular message board site. Well, here’s his account.

Wright also said he faked Satoshi’s PGP key, perhaps mistakenly.

Master manipulator

Relatedly, Wright denies forging or plagiarizing any of the documents submitted into evidence. He has blamed hacks, faulty internet connections and a grand conspiracy of people trying to “frame” him as a liar for some of the inconsistencies brought — like metadata that shows documents pertaining to the creation of Bitcoin were made using Word 2015.

On the opening day of the case, Judge Mellor acknowledged the allegations of forged documents and told Wright he “should consider himself extremely lucky” to argue his case, given the circumstances.

When asked by Mellor on Wednesday to produce a single document related to early Bitcoin files that doesn’t show signs of tampering, Wright said they would be unavailable. Plus, he argued, it couldn’t possibly be him manipulating the documents, because if it were, he wouldn’t have gotten caught.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller.


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Daniel Kuhn

Daniel Kuhn is a deputy managing editor for Consensus Magazine. He owns minor amounts of BTC and ETH.