"The defendant has sought to publicly discredit a government witness."
Somehow, the FTX drama continues. This time, the Department of Justice is accusing the exchange's ex-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried of leaking excerpts from his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison's diary to the New York Times — less than a day after its contents were published by the paper.
In a DOJ memorandum, US attorneys claimed that Bankman-Fried allegedly giving the NYT Ellison's diary entries is tantamount to derailing her testimony against him in his upcoming federal court case. As such, the DOJ is essentially seeking a gag order to keep SBF and anyone else involved in the case from releasing more infor ahead of trial.
"The defendant has sought to publicly discredit a government witness by sharing her personal writings with a reporter," the US attorneys wrote, adding that "such efforts have the potential to taint the jury pool, and could have a chilling effect on witnesses."
Though the NYT does not name its sources for the leaked diary entries of the former Alameda Research CEO, the DOJ claims it has knowledge of Bankman-Fried meeting with one of the article's authors and that he gave that writer documents not included in discovery.
"Based on the excerpts in the Article," the memo continues, "the documents do not appear to be within the discovery materials in the case, but likely came from [SBF's] personal Google Drive account."
The DOJ added that it was "particularly pernicious" that SBF leaked the documents to the NYT rather than commenting on them openly, and even took on the newspaper itself.
"Having the story appear in a reputable newspaper with a worldwide readership without identifying the defendant as the source lends a misleading patina of legitimacy to what would otherwise be naked advocacy, compounding the risk of tainting prospective jurors," the memo reads.
Honestly, the Justice Department makes a compelling case when it claims in its memo that the disgraced 31-year-old was, in essence if not intent, harassing Ellison and chilling other witnesses from testifying against him.
"A common refrain from witnesses’ attorneys — including attorneys for witnesses located abroad — is witness hesitation about testifying in a case that has received persistent national and international media attention," the US attorneys wrote. "These witness concerns will only be heightened if witnesses are made to fear that a consequence of testifying against the defendant may include personal humiliation and efforts to discredit their reputation."
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