We urge anyone with an interest in Bitcoin history to read the full testimony of Dr. Craig Wright in Norway. The comments, made during his defense against plaintiff Marcus “Hodlonaut” Granath, are a thorough reminder of the creator’s Bitcoin story. They also go to great lengths to explain the reasoning behind Bitcoin’s existence, its original use cases… and hint at why many continue to spread misinformation about Dr. Wright.
The four-hour testimony (it’s worth it) begins with a now-familiar background about Dr. Wright, his grandfather’s role as a code breaker in World War II and the impact it had on Wright’s career. He also provides graphic details of the threats against his wife and daughters, and the personal pain he felt from Granath’s social media campaign to discredit him. After all, this campaign is the reason the trial is taking place in the first place.
Dr. Wright also describes his work at Lasseters Online Casino and law enforcement accounting firm BDO, and how those experiences led him to research a distributed, time-stamped, digital tokenization system in the form of digital money. This work itself took a toll on his first marriage, as Wright quit a high-paying job to embark on a resource-consuming pursuit with no guarantees of success.
He initially viewed the Bitcoin system as a product he could sell to a large company and negotiated with both BDO and Microsoft. Both rejected him. Attempts to claim R&D expenditure eventually led to a multimillion-dollar dispute with the Australian Revenue Service (ATO), which served as Dr. Wright’s “outing” as Satoshi in 2015 and several other allegations since then.
Wright’s “sidebar” comments tell much of the story
Dr. Wright regularly adds lengthy “sidebar” comments to his answers, addressing various issues pertaining to the nature and history of Bitcoin. During his testimony, he expresses his views on ICOs, NFTs, encryption, Bitcoin traceability/auditability, the true meaning of “decentralization” and “peer-to-peer”, microtransactions and block sizes, “small-world” networks and blind trusts. .
Although the attorneys for both Dr. Wright if Granath often step in to curtail them, these sidebars serve two purposes. One is to show his deep knowledge about the topics and explain concepts that have been misused. The other is to make sure these comments are now permanent, sworn and public. They are topics important to Bitcoin and the purpose it is meant to fulfill, and a record of how many of the concepts have been twisted by others to suit their own purposes.
An important note in the sidebar explains some key points about the nature of Bitcoin:
“The whole point I’m trying to make, and I’m going to make, is that Bitcoin is not encrypted. Bitcoin can be confiscated, Bitcoin can be frozen. Bitcoin acts within the law. There is a lot of misinformation out there from BTC maximalists who want to get back to drug markets, child pornography, pedophilia – and they don’t want Bitcoin legal enforcement. I want to make sure that judges and courts understand that Bitcoin is not encrypted and that it can be seized, frozen and accessed under a court order. I want to make sure the lies about thousands upon thousands of nodes are understood. And for people to understand that BTC has fifteen nodes, three of which control fifty-nine percent of the hash power today.”
Segments of Dr. Wright suggest that the value of the intellectual property he created has more meaning to him than the market value of his Bitcoin. This includes the Bitcoin protocol itself, as well as other systems and processes he invented, some of which run on Bitcoin and some that predate it. He describes how, in the early days of his “outing” as Satoshi, his priority was protecting his IP as “it was the most valuable thing I had”.
Under cross-examination, Wright explains how he structured the keys of “Satoshi” first into encrypted key segments and then into the Wright International Investments company, and the formal blind trust over which he regained control in 2020. This process was designed to protect his intellectual property from the Australian Revenue Service (ATO), which had deemed his Bitcoin research “a stupid hobby” with no value, but later threatened to bankrupt him.
Dr. Wright, as he describes in the testimony, has an extensive background in digital forensics and audits. After creating Bitcoin, he initially envisioned it as a product to implement to make auditing activities easier, as a timestamp and digital proof system. He was thinking more about symbolizing physical products and assets, simply using digital money as a proof of concept. Encoding the now famous Times headline “Chancellor on brink of second bank bailout” was itself a timestamping mechanism, proving that nothing could have happened on the Bitcoin network before that date.
His personal reluctance to “come out” as Satoshi is evident both before and after the involuntary revelations in WIRED and Gizmodo’s 2015 articles. The battle lasted long after it was decided to formally link Wright and Satoshi, with Wright often feeling pressured to prove something he didn’t want to prove, and wanting to regain control of his life .
Cross-examination paints the opposite picture
The second half of the video is the cross-examination of Dr. Wright. Granath’s counsel’s questions are mainly about details of the history Wright described in the earlier testimony, but also about details in emails and other correspondence, and how well he remembers them. Wright’s attitude changes as the questions progress, especially when Granath’s counsel reads from Jameson Lopp’s lengthy article in which he “debunks” each of his claims. His answers are more belligerent and he is clearly annoyed that he has to explain them despite his opponents’ persistent accusations.
The questions relate to various allegations made in attempts to disprove Dr. Wright over the years, in his Wikipedia entry and online articles written by detractors. One such claim counters Wright’s testimony that he was “never convicted of anything.” When counsel points out that Wikipedia refers to a previous contempt of judicial “conviction” in New South Wales, Wright points out that in Australia this is not a criminal offense and therefore not a conviction. He earned community service after being “rather belligerent in the stands” during proceedings involving the ATO.
A simple but important question is whether Dr. Wright once “had access to” the private keys to Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin (defined as blocks 1-12 for the purposes of the court). Dr. Wright says he doesn’t have them now, but the question of whether he ever had them is complex: Bitcoin allows multiple parties to have parts of a cryptographic key, and individuals can have proof of these key parts without ever being necessary . know the exact characters they contain.
It is noteworthy that the opponents of Dr. Wright usually distill their arguments down to the most basic “does he have the Satoshi keys or not?” but as Wright reiterates in his testimony, words like “have” and “own” get more complicated when it comes to Bitcoin, trusts, and corporate structures. Therefore, the key question is “Is Craig Wright Satoshi Nakamoto?” cannot possibly be answered with an easily accessible set of Bitcoin keys. Unfortunately, these statements often fall on deaf ears — another reason why it’s important to have them out in court.
“What does it take to access the private keys?” counselor asks. “What I’m trying to explain is that you don’t have to,” Wright replies. “I had the algorithm that could calculate the private keys.”
For several years, Dr. Wright to protect his IP and assets and hide his role in Bitcoin’s creation, rather than prove it. To do this, he created a multi-layered structure of companies, trusts, and legal constructs, which he must now explain in order to unravel Bitcoin’s history. When questioned by lawyers, it’s like watching an attempt at reverse engineering performed by people who understand neither the final product nor the technique involved, and explained by a creator who is clearly unwilling to reveal anything. Interspersed with the technical details are often very personal stories about business and private relationships, life crises and motivations that influenced the outcome.
This series of complete video testimonials sheds light on the human side of the Bitcoin story. As much as we’ve heard the “code is law” claim and the like from the cypherpunk and blockchain communities over the years, this is far from the truth. A world of men remains, and must remain, under human law. Bitcoin was created by humans to serve humanity. The Bitcoin network functions because of economic incentives for human action. Likewise, there are many actions outside the network that also determine the results. This lawsuit is an example of that.
Watch Granath vs Wright Satoshi Norway Trial Coverage Livestream Recaps on the CoinGeek YouTube Channel.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learning more about Bitcoin – as originally conceived by Satoshi Nakamoto – and blockchain.