Sam Bankman-Fried’s Early Release Denied by Appeals Court

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has denied the motion for early release filed by former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, widely known as SBF. The decision was handed down on September 21, following a thorough review by a three-judge panel consisting of Circuit Judges John Walker Jr., Denny Chin, and William Nardini. The ruling upholds the decision of District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presides over Bankman-Fried’s criminal case.

SBF’s legal team had argued that his early release was warranted primarily due to First Amendment concerns. However, the Second Circuit panel ultimately upheld Judge Kaplan’s determination that Bankman-Fried’s actions constituted witness tampering.


In their official ruling, the panel stated, “The record shows that the district court thoroughly considered all of the relevant factors, including [Bankman-Fried’s] course of conduct over time that had required the district court to repeatedly tighten the conditions of release.” The panel also noted that the district court had considered a less restrictive alternative proposed by SBF, an order limiting his communications with the press, but had reasonably concluded that this was not a “workable solution longer term.”

The core issue at the center of this legal battle is Bankman-Fried’s admission to releasing private journals belonging to former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison to a New York Times reporter. The subsequent publication of some of the contents from these journals was labeled as witness intimidation by prosecutors. It was this act that ultimately led to the denial of his motion for early release.

Additionally, Bankman-Fried’s legal team had argued that the limited access to the Internet in jail had hindered his ability to adequately prepare for his impending criminal trial. However, this argument did not sway the appellate court in favor of granting his early release.

This decision by the Second Circuit is likely one of the final opportunities for Sam Bankman-Fried to secure his freedom before his first criminal trial, which is scheduled to commence on October 3rd, less than two weeks from today. A second trial is also on the horizon, with proceedings expected to begin in March 2024. Throughout the legal process, Bankman-Fried has consistently maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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