In a recent letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, attorneys for FTX founder Samuel Bankman-Fried argued that their client’s constitutional rights were being violated due to the lack of adequate access to evidence against him. Federal prosecutors had proposed providing Bankman-Fried with an offline laptop and limited internet access inside a courthouse cellblock, but his lawyers deemed this to be insufficient given the extensive amount of discovery material in the fraud case. They asserted that the defense was unable to adequately prepare for trial, thereby violating Bankman-Fried’s Sixth Amendment rights.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers emphasized the importance of consistent access to an internet-connected laptop for their client. They stated that millions of pages of documents and crucial sources of information were only available online. The proposal made by the government, they argued, would inevitably lead to inadequate representation. They firmly believed that as long as Bankman-Fried remained incarcerated without internet access, his defense would continue to suffer.
Bankman-Fried is facing charges of illegally diverting significant investor funds from his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX. Despite pleading not guilty, his bail was revoked last month, confining him to a small cell in a federal jail in Brooklyn. Prosecutors allege that Bankman-Fried used customer deposits to support his luxurious lifestyle, donate money to politicians, and engage in risky trades at his cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm, Alameda Research.
Bankman-Fried’s legal team informed Judge Kaplan that their client still could not review substantial amounts of evidence while in custody. This includes messages on the encrypted chat platform Slack and materials from FTX and Alameda stored in an Amazon cloud-based system. They described the process of accessing discovery materials and communicating with lawyers as cumbersome, time-consuming, and unproductive.
In light of the challenges posed by limited access to evidence and legal resources, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers argued for his temporary release under the “compelling reason” exception of the Bail Reform Act. They suggested that strict conditions could be imposed on his release, such as confinement at his parents’ house in California, in order to address any concerns about flight risks or potential dangers to society.
FTX founder Samuel Bankman-Fried’s legal team has voiced strong concerns about the inadequate access to evidence and resources that their client is facing while incarcerated. They contend that these limitations violate Bankman-Fried’s constitutional rights and hinder his ability to properly prepare for trial. The request for his temporary release under strict conditions reflects their assertion that current circumstances impede the provision of justified and effective legal representation.