Sam Bankman-Fried claims DoJ’s request to revoke bail raises free-speech concern

Quick Take

  • Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said the Department of Justice’s request to revoke his bond after he shared private diaries belonging to Caroline Ellison with the press was based on “thin” factual ground.
  • His lawyers argued detaining Bankman-Friend would raise “serious First Amendment concerns.”

Lawyers of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried argued Tuesday that prosecutors' request last week to revoke his bail was based on “thin” factual basis and said such a move would violate his right to free-speech.

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys said in a filing to a federal judge that the Department of Justice was “wrong” and that “its version of events mischaracterizes the facts and removes them from their proper context to cast Mr. Bankman-Fried’s actions and intentions in the most negative light possible.”

DoJ prosecutors last Friday filed a written submission in an effort to revoke Bankman-Fried's bond after the disgraced FTX founder shared private diaries written by former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison with the New York Times. 

“What the defendant may not do, and what he has now done repeatedly, is seek to corruptly influence witnesses and interfere with a fair trial through attempted public harassment and shaming," the DoJ said in the filing.

However, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers pushed back, saying that his contact with the NYT reporter was not an attempt to intimidate Ellison or taint the jury pool. 

“It 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,” his attorneys said.

Free-speech concern

Bankman-Fried’s defense team argued that detaining Bankman-Fried based on his communications with a reporter “raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

“As the Government concedes, criminal defendants have a right to talk to the press about their case to influence their public image and try to protect their reputation, as long as the communications are not calculated to pervert the course of justice,” the filing said.

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys also said that detaining him at the Metropolitan Detention Center would “make it impossible for him to fully participate in his defense,” as the facility is in a “staffing crisis.”

The lawyers added that the prison does not permit inmates to have internet access, which would cut him off from key parts of the discovery entirely.

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