Craig Wright to Face New Allegations of Forgery in COPA Trial Over Ontier Emails

He's set to retake the stand on Friday to defend allegations initially made by his former lawyers that their correspondence submitted to court had been doctored.

AccessTimeIconFeb 28, 2024 at 5:13 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 10:20 p.m. UTC
  • Craig Wright may face cross-examination again on Friday in the ongoing trial scrutinizing his claims of having invented bitcoin.
  • He is set to defend new allegations that emails intended to be shared in court were doctored.

All witnesses in a U.K. trial challenging Australian computer scientist Craig Wright’s claims of inventing popular cryptocurrency bitcoin (BTC) are through testifying – save for a potential return appearance by Wright to defend emails his former lawyers have alleged were faked.

Although Wright went through cross-examination for several days during the weeks-long trial, which began on Feb. 5, he’ll likely take the stand again on Friday morning to defend the new allegations, along with digital forensics expert Patrick Madden from the plaintiff’s side.

The trial, stemming from a lawsuit brought by an alliance of crypto industry heavyweights and developers, could decide if Wright’s claims of being Bitcoin’s pseudonymous inventor Satoshi Nakamoto hold true. The plaintiff, the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), hopes the trial's outcome – should it confirm Wright is not Satoshi – would end his legal battles with the broader crypto community working on Bitcoin.

After Wright made a reference last week to some emails between him and his former legal representatives at Ontier, his current lawyers were compelled to submit those emails to evidence. An inconsistency forced them to check with Ontier on the accuracy of the correspondence submitted by Wright’s wife Ramona Watts. Ontier then responded the emails appeared to be “not genuine.”

COPA is set to put the new allegations of forgery to Wright on Friday.

Counsel for both COPA and Wright this week tried to undermine expert witnesses for the other party, particularly questioning their “independence.” Wright’s team on Monday questioned COPA expert witness Patrick Madden on why he’d enlisted the help of COPA’s counsel at Bird & Bird LLP to organize the findings of his investigation into Wright’s claims instead of seeking independent help. On Wednesday, the COPA camp, in turn, asked Wright’s expert witness ZeMing Gao, who has authored multiple essays asserting Wright is Satoshi, whether he was truly an objective expert.

In addition to Gao, cryptography and security expert Sarah Meiklejohn took the stand for COPA on Wednesday to defend – among other things – her findings indicating key cryptographic signings Wright did as proof he's Satoshi may have been inadequate.

After Friday, the court will resume on March 12 for closing statements from both sides.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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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.