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El Salvador Police Releases Bitcoin Law Critic Arrested for Alleged Bank Fraud

Mario Gomez was arrested Wednesday morning but police did not file any charges. Gomez was released hours later.

Sep 1, 2021 at 7:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 1, 2021 at 7:15 p.m. UTC

The National Civil Police (PNC) of El Salvador arrested this Wednesday morning the computer specialist Mario Gomez, an active critic of the implementation of bitcoin in that country.

According to the Twitter account Resistencia Activa, which reported the incident, Gómez was arrested on Wednesday morning and taken to the Montserrat police station and then transferred to the Central Investigations Division of the PNC, local newspaper La Prensa Gráfica reported.

The news organization added the police have told Gómez’s lawyers they are investigating Gomez for possible bank fraud, explaining why they confiscated his phones and attempted to confiscate his computer.

Hours later, Gómez was released after it was confirmed that he did not have an arrest warrant and that the police said he had only been captured “in the process of investigation,” his lawyer Otto Flores told La Prensa Gráfica.

PNC did not respond to CoinDesk’s inquiries about the reasons for Gómez’s arrest.

According to PNC, Gómez is accused of financial fraud related to false emails sent to users of the banking system that violated their accounts, added La Prensa Gráfica.

Speaking to local media La Prensa Grafica, Gomez’s mother, Elena de Gomez, confirmed the police detained her son “without a warrant or anything.” Gómez, she added, asked the officers to show documentation of an authorization but they did not do so.

On the way to the jail they took away Gómez’s two cell phones, added his mother, who was asked by a military officer for her son’s computer. The officer withdrew the request due to the presence of media organizations, she said.

Gómez’s last public appearance was yesterday in a Twitter space organized by Diario de Hoy newspaper, where he analyzed the implementation of bitcoin in El Salvador.

El Salvador newspaper (which shares its name with the country) said the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) did not detail the crimes Gómez is accused of committing.

Among his criticisms of the Bukele government and the implementation of the Bitcoin Law in El Salvador, Gomez tweeted that an official presentation of Chivo Wallet on LinkedIn used the same address that Twitter hackers employed when they stole Elon Musk’s account.

“A slide with an address with illicit funds does not help Chivo ehh,” he added.

On Wednesday, small demonstrations against the implementation of bitcoin took place in the country. According to those present on the scene, about 200 people marched to the national parliament and gave some speeches. Among the organizations present was the Union of Judicial Employees June 30.

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