Update April 12, 2019: A crowdfund has been launched to help cover Hodlonaut’s legal fees. If you would like to donate, you can find the website here. Less than 24 hours after its launch, the fundraiser has raised $15,500, more than 75 percent of its soft cap goal. You can also donate by purchasing Hodlonaut swag through the BITCOINTEL.PRO store.
As community members band together to give Hodlonaut a monetary hand, another prominent member of the community, What Bitcoin Did podcaster Peter McCormack, has been served a similar letter to Hodlonaut’s own. McCormack directly challenged Calvin Ayre and Craig Wright on Twitter earlier this week, coaxing the duo by calling Wright a “fraud” and posting his business address and requesting legal action.
Craig S. Wright has officially taken the first steps in a legal action against a member of the Bitcoin community, according to a letter shared with Bitcoin Magazine.
The self-described Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin SV creator has threatened to sue Hodlonaut, the creator of the Lightning Torch, for a series of tweets labeling him a “fraud” on Twitter. Following the forksplit of Bitcoin SV from Bitcoin Cash — and Wright’s continued indefatigable insistence that he is Satoshi — the community has been unyielding in its own insistence that Wright isn’t Satoshi. Tweets calling Craig S. Wright a “fraud” have become something of a meme in the community, inspiring hashtags like #CSWFraud and even going so far as to earn him the moniker “Faketoshi” among his opponents.
Wright has long threatened legal action against anyone who has labeled him a fraud on Twitter, and a letter that Hodlonaut received from Wright’s lawyers finally substantiates what was, for a time, just a looming threat.
The Letter and Demands
In a series of legal letters shared with Bitcoin Magazine, SCA ONTIER LLP., writing on behalf of Wright, demands that Hodlonaut retract his statements and apologize, or else their client will sue him for libel.
“We strongly suggest that you take legal advice upon the contents of this letter, which is written in compliance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Defamation applicable to the High Court of England and Wales,” the letter begins.
The firm, which states that Wright “is the person behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto,” continues to solicit Hodlonaut for his full name, email address and postal address (the letter was transmitted via Twitter). If Hodlonaut does not comply, “[Wright] will take steps to ascertain them by other means, including, if necessary, the making of applications to court to compel disclosure of this information by you and/or third parties.”
For the remainder of the letter’s first and second pages, the firm documents the tweets in question, which label Wright a “scammer” and call for “Craig Wright is a fraud Week” with the hashtag #CraigWrightIsAFraud.
“By tagging to [this] hashtag,” the letter charges, “you encourage your follows to view and contribute to that thread, which … is no more than a crude means by which our client can be abused and libelled.”
Saying that Hodlonaut’s “campaign against [Wright] has been sustained and systematic,” the firm then falsely states that this is because Hodlonaut is a promoter of Bitcoin Cash, an ostensible rival to the recently forked Bitcoin SV. Anyone who follows Hodlonaut on Twitter knows that this is a bizarre claim, as the user is an ardent Bitcoiner who has even aired grievances against Roger Ver for attacking the integrity of Bitcoin with the Bitcoin Cash fork.
The letter asserts that, taken in bulk, Hodlonaut’s claims that Wright isn’t Satoshi “has caused serious harm” to Wright. “The defamatory allegation,” it continues, has spread to Hodlonaut’s 8,000 plus followers — a “substantial portion” of which reside in its U.K. jurisdiction, the firm assumes.
The letter concludes with a series of demands. First, that Hodlonaut delete all of the tweets referenced in the letter (he’s done this under recommendation of his legal counsel, along with deleting his Twitter entirely); second, that he not repeat these allegations; and third, that Hodlonaut tweet an apology and appear in open court to apologize to Wright in person, acknowledging the “falsity of the allegations.”
Incredibly, the letter includes a prescribed apology that reads as follows:
“I was wrong to allege Craig Wright fraudulently claimed to be Satoshi. I accept he is Satoshi. I am sorry Dr. Wright. I will not repeat this libel.”
Wright threatens to sue Hodlonaut on the grounds of defamation and libel if he doesn’t comply with the demands within seven days of receiving the letter. This, as the letter admits, “is shorter than the period usually provided for by Pre-Action Protocol because the allegations are serious and ongoing” (even though Hodlonaut hasn’t tweeted about Wright since).
This directive expired on April 5. The letter says that, if the demands are not met, then Wright will file for proceedings in U.K. court and Hodlonaut will be served in his home country of Norway. Hodlonaut’s address is not public, however, and while the letter threatens that it will “locate [him]” to serve the litigation, this will likely prove difficult. A source close to the matter, who asked to remain anonymous, has indicated that no further action has yet been taken.
CoinGeek, the tabloid-esque cryptocurrency blog owned by Wright’s associate, Calvin Ayre, recently blew the escalating legal action into the open. The article reiterates much of what the legal letter said. But it also offers up a doxing bounty of $5,000 in BSV (enough for a whole bitcoin) to anyone who can identify Hodlonaut by tattoos displayed in the few photos he’s posted online.
It also targets other “social media sock-puppets” who have followed suit with Hodlonaut’s accusations, threatening that “these internet tough guys will have their own day in court soon enough.” Remarks like this run rampant in the article, which continues to assert that “Hodlonaut and the other trolls are about to discover why ‘he who laughs last, laughs best.’”
“They’re in for an even greater shock when they realize that the bastardized Bitcoin variants they’ve championed can’t scale to meet the needs of a truly global financial platform, and thus they’ve expended all this vitriol for nothing.”
Ayre, who has come under intense scrutiny recently for a rendezvous with allegedly underage Cuban dancers, has migrated some of the article’s threats to Twitter and has insinuated that more letters will be served to others Twitter users soon.
In a show of solidarity and resilience, a community movement has been fomented to show support for Hodlonaut. Twitter users have instigated the hashtag #WeAreAllHodlonaut, an homage to the popular shibboleth We Are All Satoshi — and its all-too-relevant variant “We Are All Satoshi (Except Craig Wright).”
I can confirm I am behind the account @hodlonaut, what next @CalvinAyre?— Peter McHodlonaut (@PeterMcCormack) April 11, 2019
Do we get to go to court? This is so exciting.
Colin is an associate editor and staff writer for Bitcoin Magazine. He's proud to call Nashville his home, where he spends his days shouting at peddle taverns and trying to find affordable parking downtown. If it wasn't already obvious, he holds bitcoin.