Prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to revoke Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail last week, alleging that he had attempted to discredit former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison’s upcoming testimony against him.
In a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said that the factual basis for the government’s request was “extremely thin” and relied heavily on assumptions and unsupported inferences.
The DOJ accused Bankman-Fried of leaking Ellison’s private diary to a New York Times reporter, who published a July 20 article detailing her private musings about her relationship with the former FTX CEO and her misgivings about her role at Alameda.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers claim that his contact with the reporter was not an attempt to intimidate a witness or taint a jury pool, but merely an exercise of his first amendment right to make a fair comment in a media story that related to him.
“The reporter was already aware of these documents because he had written an article two months earlier… Hence, Mr. Bankman-Fried shared copies of writings that the reporter apparently already knew about, and which were not produced in discovery, to give his perspective and protect his reputation,” they said.
They further argued that the government itself was the source for some of the disclosures made to the reporter, based on the fact that the article in question stated that prosecutors intended to begin preparing some of its witnesses in August.
“Not surprisingly, the published article was unfavorable to Mr. Bankman-Fried and favorable to Ms. Ellison. Hence, any purported “taint” to the jury pool (and we dispute that there has been any), has been to the detriment of Mr. Bankman-Fried,” they added.