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Tornado Cash Founder Gains Ally in Edward Snowden

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Tornado Cash Founder Gains Ally in Edward Snowden

Shalini Nagarajan

Last updated:

| 2 min read

Tornado Cash - Edward Snowden

Source: DALL·E 3

Former CIA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden on Tuesday called for financial aid to support Tornado Cash founder Roman Storm’s legal defense.

Storm and his co-founder Semenov were arrested in Aug. 2023 for alleged sanctions violations in the US through their crypto mixing service, accused of laundering over $1b.

“My legal team and I are going to put forth a strong defense at trial, not just for my family’s sake, but for the future of software developers and financial privacy,” Storm said in a video posted to X on Monday.

“Folks, I need your help. Whether you’re a passionate developer, involved with Web3, or just care about software and privacy, this legal battle will affect you. So, please help contribute to my legal defense, because this case will set a major precedent for years to come,” he added.

Storm, who holds both US and Russian citizenship, was released on bail shortly after his detention on a $2 million bond secured against his Washington state residence.

Snowden has asked supporters to help, saying: ” Privacy is not a crime.”

Tornado Cash saw an 85% drop in transactions following OFAC sanctions


Storm, together with Semenov and developer Alexey Pertsev, founded Tornado Cash in 2019.

The mixer, still operational as of now, offers users a way to hide their transaction history, effectively protecting their financial privacy from outside observation.

Tornado Cash accomplishes this by masking the trails of transactions, providing a shield against any form of surveillance and tracking.

In 2022, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on Tornado Cash for alleged exploitation by North Korean hackers in money laundering activities.

These sanctions intended to forbid anyone in the US from engaging with the service, including sending or receiving funds through it.

The indictment claimed that Tornado Cash functioned as a money service business without registration, a requirement under FinCEN regulations.

Post OFAC sanctions, Tornado Cash saw an 85% drop in overall volume, with illicit transactions through the mixer decreasing by about 77%, according to TRM Labs.

Edward Snowden’s advocacy mirrored in Storm’s mission


Snowden’s backing of Roman Storm makes sense, as they both appear to share views on privacy and encryption.

He became known for disclosing National Security Agency (NSA) materials to the media, resulting in major privacy rulings and changes in policies and technologies.

Critics argue that Tornado Cash provides a legitimate tool for users seeking financial privacy, useful for anonymous political donations, or shielding personal finances.

Groups like Coin Center and the Blockchain Association have backed the service’s developers.

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