Craig Wright Can Appeal Satoshi Defamation Finding, Norwegian Court Rules

An Oslo judge in October ruled Twitter user Hodlonaut had been within his rights to post 2019 tweets calling Wright a "fraud" and "scammer."

AccessTimeIconDec 23, 2022 at 3:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 23, 2022 at 8:52 p.m. UTC

Craig Wright has been given permission to appeal a Norwegian court ruling concerning his claim to be Satoshi Nakomoto, founder of Bitcoin, CoinDesk has been told.

In October, Judge Helen Engebrigtsen of the Oslo District Court ruled that Magnus Granath (who goes by the Twitter handle Hodlonaut) had been entitled to post tweets in 2019 calling Wright a “fraud” and a “scammer” for saying he was the true founder of Bitcoin.

Wright’s right to protest that ruling has now been upheld by the Norwegian Court of Appeal, lawyers involved in the case have told CoinDesk, offering yet another twist in an already tangled series of legal cases.

“For Dr. Wright, this decision means that the Court of Appeals will hear his case and render its own independent decision,” Wright’s attorney, Halvor Manshaus, told CoinDesk in a statement.

“The case involves other non-economic interest, aside from just the monetary claims, and may also raise important legal principles for the court to address,” Manshaus, a partner at Oslo practice Schjødt, added. The lawyer cited such issues as “defamation, protection of the personal sphere and harassment.”

Granath’s lawyers, meanwhile, attempted to play down the significance of the decision in a jurisdiction where there is a presumption that any case can be heard twice.

“There is nothing dramatic or unusual about the decision” by the appeals court, said Ørjan Salvesen Haukaas, a partner at DLA Piper, in an email.

Manshaus told CoinDesk back in October of Wright’s intention to appeal, saying that “anonymous online bullying” could have a “chilling effect” on public discourse. Granath (Hodlonaut) hoped to use the Norwegian case to forestall an unfavorable ruling in the U.K., where defamation laws are stricter.

In the U.K., Wright scored a partial legal victory on Wednesday when he was awarded 900,000 pounds (US$1.1 million) in costs in relation to a separate claim made by podcaster Peter McCormack. Wright was previously awarded only nominal damages by U.K. Judge Martin Chamberlain, who said Wright had “put forward deliberately false evidence.”

In her judgment, Engebrigtsen said Granath had “sufficient factual grounds” for his tweets, after witnesses at the trial demonstrated discrepancies in the documents Wright used to prove his claims, such as typefaces that weren’t around in 2008.

In tweets sent on Wednesday, Wright appeared to signal he was giving up on legal attempts to prove he invented Bitcoin.


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.