July 21, 2024
Sam Bankman Fried's pre-trial
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SBF’s Pre-Trial Release Hindered by Inadequate Jail Internet, Legal Team Argues

Sam Bankman Fried, the former CEO of FTX, is facing challenges in securing a pre-trial release due to a lack of reliable internet connectivity at the federal jail. His legal team has argued that the poor internet connection is impeding their ability to prepare a solid defense and causing unnecessary delays.

This request for pre-trial release, dated September 8, marks the second such appeal made within a week. The earlier request for immediate release on September 6 was denied by an appellate judge, who referred the motion to the next three-judge panel.

SBF’s legal representatives have pointed out that despite assurances from the government that their client would have access to a laptop on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., these assurances have not been fulfilled. They have cited specific instances where SBF’s access to an internet-connected laptop was abruptly terminated due to jail-related activities. For example, on September 1, Bankman-Fried was called back to his cell at 2:30 p.m. for a headcount, resulting in a loss of four hours of preparation time.

On September 6, SBF was not released from his cell until 11:00 a.m., and when he attempted to access the discovery database, the poor internet connection allowed him to review only one document. The legal team emphasized in their filing that, “Despite the government’s efforts, there does not appear to be a way to solve the internet access problem in the cellblock. That means that Mr. Bankman-Fried has no way to review and search documents in the discovery database or the AWS database before the trial. The defendant cannot prepare for trial with these kinds of limitations.” 

SBF had been arrested in the Bahamas on December 12 of the previous year, but he was released on a $250 million bond, during which time he mostly remained confined to his parents’ residence in California. However, his bail was revoked on August 11 after allegations that he attempted to contact and intimidate former FTX executives and witnesses in the lawsuit. Since then, Bankman-Fried’s legal team has filed multiple appeals for pre-trial release, but the reviewing judges have argued that he repeatedly violated bail conditions, making immediate release impossible.

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