SBF denies witness tampering amid leak of ex-girlfriend’s diary



Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried have denied that he attempted to intimidate witnesses in his criminal trial by talking to New York Times reporters and argued there is no reason to jail him.

In an Aug. 1 letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers claimed the prosecution’s attempt to revoke his bail and have him detained are “extremely thin” and heavily relied on assumptions and innuendo.

They added Bankman-Fried’s contact with a New York Times reporter was not an attempt to intimidate former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison or taint the jury pool and it was not enough to justify his detainment ahead of the trial. 

Lawyer’s for Bankman-Fried claim that his alleged contact with a reporter does not justify imprisonment. Source: CourtListener

Bankman-Fried’s contact with reporters was a “proper exercise of his rights to make fair comment on an article already in progress, for which the reporter already had alternate sources,” the lawyers argued.

On July 28, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail alleging he shared Ellison’s diary with The New York Times in an attempt to harass and intimidate her.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers suggested it was the government that shared Ellison’s diary with The New York Times, saying it was implausible the government had nothing to do with the article.

“The language of the story itself, which discusses when the Government will begin preparing its trial witnesses and describes documents that were not provided to the reporter by Mr. Bankman-Fried, strongly indicates it was a source,” the lawyers said.

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They claimed the article — where Ellison’s diary entries described feeling overwhelmed by her job, her insecurities and her heartbreak from her split with Bankman-Fried — cast her in a sympathetic light.

Ellison has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is reportedly cooperating with the DOJ. She is expected to testify as a witness against Bankman-Fried in his criminal trial scheduled for October.

Judge Kaplan, meanwhile, imposed a gag order on both Bankman-Fried and prosecutors until he considers the request to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail.

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