A campaign has been launched to fund legal action against Newsweek on behalf of Dorian Nakamoto, the California man the magazine claimed was the inventor of bitcoin back in March.
The campaign has set up a website called newsweeklied.com, a twitter account and a bitcoin address for donations to the ‘Dorian Nakamoto Legal Defense Fund’, which can also be donated to with credit or debit cards.
The case is being handled by Los Angeles arts and entertainment and industry lawyer Ethan Kirschner of Kirschner Law. Nakamoto first hired Kirschner as his lawyer in March, saying, “I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report”.
The fund website states:
“A lawsuit against Newsweek will be very expensive. Dorian does not have the resources to pay the costs of such a suit, let alone attorneys’ fees. Monies raised by the Fund will be used to further Dorian’s legal claims against Newsweek; anything remaining will be given directly to Dorian for his expenses.”
The news of the fundraising campaign was initially met with some skepticism from the bitcoin community, but a tweet from Andreas Antonopoulos initially appeared to confirm its legitimacy.
– AndreasMAntonopoulos (@aantonop) 14 Oct 2014
Antonopoulos had organized a previous fundraiser for Nakamoto in April. That campaign has raised over 49.5 BTC (almost $20,000 at the time of publication) to date, 34.5 of which still remains at the address.
He clarified, however, that he does not personally endorse the new campaign. When approached on the issue, Antonopoulos told CoinDesk:
“From conversations I had with Dorian Nakamoto, I am aware that this is something Dorian endorsed and is being run by his lawyer. Other than knowing those facts, I have no further knowledge of any details. I am not involved in any way, nor do I support or endorse this fundraiser.”
“I know Dorian was inconvenienced by Newsweek and would like to clear his name, as he has said publicly many times. I am skeptical as to whether a lawsuit is a wise or effective way of achieving that. I personally believe that free speech is extremely important and that poor journalism should be met with ridicule and public criticism – the cure for bad speech is more speech.”
It is also not known whether Nakamoto himself had initially approached Kirschner Law for representation. A message sent to Kirschner’s office by CoinDesk on the question remained unanswered at press time.
Dorian Nakamoto was first claimed to be the bitcoin founder in March in a feature article called The Face Behind Bitcoin by journalist Leah McGrath Goodman. In the story, Goodman wrote that the name ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ had been “repeated by everyone from bitcoin’s rabid fans to The New Yorker“.
As evidence, she presented her interviews with those close to Nakamoto and his “circuitous” employment history which included some classified work for the US government.
Goodman never spoke to Nakamoto directly about bitcoin, claiming he had ceased responding to her enquiries once she mentioned the word. Attempts to question him on the topic through family members also produced little result.
Assuming Nakamoto’s elusiveness as confirmation, Goodman then attempted to speak to Nakamoto directly by visiting his house, at which point Nakamoto called the police.
Nakamoto, 64, who has suffered both unemployment and health problems in recent years, was hounded by the media after Newsweek’s story appeared, causing him, he has said, further hardship.
The website concludes:
“If a private citizen like Dorian can be targeted and victimized by a reckless news organization, it could happen to others. Please help us to remind Newsweek and the press community of their continuing legal and ethical responsibilities to the broader public.”