The former CEO of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, has been denied early release by a panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This decision comes after a meticulous review of the arguments presented in his motion for release.

First Amendment Concerns and Thorough Consideration

SBF’s legal team had primarily argued that First Amendment concerns justified his early release. However, the three-judge panel, consisting of Circuit Judges John M. Walker Jr., Denny Chin, and William Nardini, found these arguments “unpersuasive.”

Further, they upheld the judgment of Lewis Kaplan, the overseeing judge in SBF’s criminal case, who had determined that Bankman-Fried’s actions constituted witness tampering.

The judges also emphasized that the district court had thoroughly considered various factors, including SBF’s behavior over time, which had necessitated the tightening of release conditions. Additionally, the district court had contemplated an alternative proposed by SBF – restricting his communications with the press. However, this alternative was deemed unfeasible for the long term.

The US Court of Appeal

Presumption in Favor of Detention

The appellate court upheld the district court’s decision, stating that SBF had failed to rebut the presumption in favor of detention. They also reviewed additional arguments put forth by the defense team and found them lacking in persuasiveness.

It’s worth noting that Bankman-Fried had previously admitted to releasing private journals belonging to former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison to a New York Times reporter. This act was labeled as witness intimidation by prosecutors. SBF’s lawyers had also argued that the lack of consistent internet access hindered his ability to prepare a robust defense for his criminal trial.

Key Milestone

This ruling marks a critical juncture in SBF’s legal proceedings. With his first criminal trial scheduled to commence on October 3, his chances for early release have dwindled. A second trial is expected to follow in March 2024. Throughout this process, Bankman-Fried maintains his plea of not guilty to all charges.

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