#FreeAlexPertsev Protest March Kicks Off After Tornado Cash Dev’s Arrest

A week after the arrest of Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev, public dissent has reached a crescendo. Crypto and privacy advocates are planning protest marches and a petition advocating for his release is now circulating on social media under the #FreeAlexPertsev banner.

Writers of Open-Source Code Treated as Scapegoats

Following Pertsev’s arrest in Dam Square, Amsterdam, 50 advocates organised a demonstration alongside Pertsev’s wife, Xenia Malik. The public is also getting on board with protesters arguing Pertsev should not be held responsible for writing open-source code, regardless of its users.

The protest is raising several questions in relation to whether these projects’ developers deserve such harsh punishments. Crypto mixers in themselves are not illegal, merely serving to allow users transaction anonymity. The problem comes when this technology is used to launder illicit funds.

A petition was organised on Change.org last week by Finnish product manager Daria Mironova, who hopes to further raise awareness of the circumstances of the arrest. In the petition, Mironova explains that open-source software can be “audited, fixed and improved by anyone”, yet a developer cannot control how this code is used, even with the best intentions.


If we don’t react now, in the future we might see many cases where innocent developers go to prison when someone misuses their code.

Daria Mironova, Finnish product manager

As it stands, no official charges have been filed against Pertsev; however, he has been interrogated about his involvement in the protocol’s development. By the end of last week, 1,015 signatures had been added to the petition. When that figure reaches 40,000, Mironova plans to take this proof of public dissent to the authorities.

How It All Started

On August 12, Dutch authorities announced they had arrested Perstev in Amsterdam for his supposed involvement in facilitating money laundering and concealing criminal financial flows through his work on the crypto mixing service. It was alleged that Tornado Cash enabled criminals to launder stolen assets by concealing their identities.

Yet it wasn’t all negative, as the platform also hid the identities of Ukrainian citizens receiving donated crypto from the public. However, the Dutch authorities maintain that those behind the company made a significant profit from these transactions.

Lauren Claxton

Lauren Claxton

Lauren is currently a freelance writer with experience in finance writing. She has a growing interest in the metaverse and all things NFTs and expects to graduate in 2022 with bachelors degrees in creative writing and public relations.

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