SBF Granted Access to a Laptop in Jail to Prepare For His Defense

While at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX has been given access to a laptop that would help him review discovery. 

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The Court’s Permission

He has approval to use an internet-enabled laptop with Microsoft Office, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat at a cellblock at the federal courthouse in Manhattan twice a week as against the five-day access requested by his lawyers

In a letter to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) confirmed that the 31-year-old billionaire can use an air-gapped laptop placed for him in a visiting room between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during weekdays, and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. His trial is still set for later in October.  

SBF’s Defense Team Says Special Laptop is Not Sufficient 

His legal team has however argued in a Tuesday filing that his access to this special laptop as well as other court-ordered accommodation are not sufficient to help him prepare his defense as his trial date approaches. 

“Friday, September 1, 2023, was the first day Mr. Bankman-Fried could work a full day with his materials at the MDC. But contrary to the plan, MDC staff told Mr. Bankman-Fried that he had to leave the visiting room at around 2:30pm and return to his unit for the count. This deprived him of 4.5 hours of possible work time,” his lawyers explained the situation. 

SBF’s Restrictions Are Consequences of His Action

On the other hand, federal prosecutors are disputing the claims made by Bankman-Fried’s lawyers.

They clarified that the sudden technological restrictions imposed on SBF were warranted after he allegedly attempted ‘witness tampering’. The prosecutors’ letter emphasised that they were merely consequences of his criminal activities while on his $250 million bail bond.

Describing the latest access provided to the jailed billionaire, the prosecutors added, “To date, there have been no reported issues with the functionality of the USB ports and software applications utilized thus far.” 

In addition, the DoJ attested that SBF currently has three hard drives and that the MDC has approved the use of a second air-gapped laptop, which can be stored in an area adjacent to his housing unit for increased convenience.

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