Craig Wright Denies Forging Evidence He’s Satoshi on Day 2 of COPA Trial

From self-plagiarism to poor multitasking, the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor offered an explanation for every inconsistency pointed out by opposing counsel during his first cross-examination in the London court case.

AccessTimeIconFeb 6, 2024 at 9:36 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:09 p.m. UTC

“If I had forged that document, then it would be perfect.”

So spoke Australian computer scientist Craig Wright Tuesday, minutes into his first day of cross-examination in a U.K. trial that could lay waste to his controversial claim that he is the father of cryptocurrency.

Denying an accusation from opposing counsel, Wright claimed that inconsistencies in a pdf showed not that it had been doctored but the opposite. Turning to presiding Judge James Mellor, the defendant said, "If you go into Adobe, My Lord, and I change everything, there's not going to be a font error."

An alliance of crypto advocates and developers have sued Wright, accusing him of committing forgeries on an “industrial scale” to prove he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of the oldest and most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

Sporting a powder-blue, pinstriped, three-piece suit in what attendees described as a menacingly hot London courtroom on Tuesday, Wright curtly denied he’d forged item after item of what he’d previously presented as evidence that he is Satoshi, author of Bitcoin’s foundational document, known as the white paper.

Skill issue?

Aside from straight denials in the form of “No, that’s actually wrong” or “No, it sure is not” thrown at Bird & Bird LLP’s Jonathan Hough, counsel for the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), Wright attributed inconsistencies in his arguments to everything from self-plagiarizing and printing errors to the illnesses or deaths of various witnesses.

For one, Hough asked Wright if he would accept that much of a research paper abstract shared on Twitter called BlackNet – which Wright has said is from 2002 – "directly reflects language and concepts which are in the bitcoin white paper," published in 2008.

Wright disputed that characterization, claiming he had reused his own words.

“You're again assuming that I have a linear function of how I write,” he told Hough, adding he had multiple versions of both the white paper and his BlackNet abstract.

In another instance, when Hough questioned why the computer scientist had obscured the address bar of a web browser while recording separate videos of him purportedly accessing an email account linked to Satoshi, Wright blamed his multitasking skills.

“You can't operate a mouse and a phone at the same time?” Hough asked. “And hold the thing still?" Wright replied. “No”

When asked if Wright, as a forensic documents expert, would view the video as something one would do when trying to fake something, he answered no. Addressing Judge Mellor directly, Wright added: “My Lord, what you would do as someone skilled as I am, is, you would go to the developer bar and access and change online live.”

Hemming and hawing

Hough’s cross-examination continued for a full day, probing key pieces of evidence presented by Wright, including credit card payments, emails, documents and tweets that COPA says prove the computer scientist’s claim of being Satoshi is a “brazen lie.”

But when Wright was asked if he would characterize what he and his solicitors had presented so far as the material he “primarily” relies upon to support his claim of being Satoshi, the defendant hesitated.

“It's a simple question, Dr. Wright,” Judge Mellor said.

On Monday, Mellor had allowed Wright to submit new evidence to the case but warned on Tuesday morning that he likely wouldn’t be allowed to produce anything further. Mellor will allow COPA to examine the new evidence and question Wright on the material if necessary.

Wright’s interrogation will continue till at least Feb. 13, according to a tentative schedule shared by the court.

The one hope among all in attendance was that the courtroom would be cooler on Wednesday.

"The working atmosphere in this room is extremely oppressive and is not a great advert for the system that we're trying to run here,” Lord Grabiner, counsel for Wright, told Mellor.

Edited by Marc Hochstein.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.