Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the collapsed FTX exchange, is currently in a dispute with prosecutors over access to a laptop while in jail.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) stated in a letter on 5 September that Bankman-Fried can use a laptop seven days a week and three hard drives containing defense material at all times.
This information was provided in response to a federal judge’s request about Bankman-Fried’s conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center (M.D.C) in Brooklyn, New York.
The defense team has expressed concerns about Bankman-Fried’s ability to work on his defense from jail. They’ve informed Judge Lewis Kaplan about issues with internet access and battery life on the laptop.
However, the recent letter indicates that a new battery has been provided, which lasts approximately 8 hours. Meanwhile, he internet speed varies between 7.5 mbps and 34 mbps. The DOJ said this speed is adequate for most online activities.
Bankman-Fried jailed after bail revoked
Bankman-Fried has been behind bars since mid-August. His bail was revoked by Judge Kaplan after it was determined that the FTX founder had made multiple attempts to influence witnesses.
His lawyers are challenging this decision, arguing that his detention infringes on his Sixth Amendment right to actively participate in his defense.
Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, has voiced concerns about the prison’s conditions in previous court hearings. He raised the lack of vegan meal options, revealing that Bankman-Fried is currently surviving on just bread and water. Cohen argues this is affecting his client’s ability to adequately prepare for the October trial.
Cohen said in court: “Notwithstanding multiple requests for a vegan diet, he continues to be served a flesh diet.”
Cohen has previously claimed that Bankman-Fried isn’t receiving necessary medications, including the ADHD medication Adderall and the antidepressant Emsam.
While the Federal Bureau of Prisons did not comment specifically on Bankman-Fried’s specific conditions, they did mention that the M.D.C. provides detainees with “access to health care, telephones, a law library for legal research, hot meals.”
Conditions at the M.D.C
Bankman-Fried’s current prison has been a subject of concern for some time. It houses over 1,500 detainees in both cells and dormitory-style rooms. When Judge Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail, he noted that the M.D.C. was not known for its top-tier facilities.
In February 2019, there was a power outage at the M.D.C. that lasted nearly a week, leaving detainees in cold conditions.
Last year, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers stated that the M.D.C. had the highest number of Covid-19 positive detainees in the country during the pandemic.
Bankman-Fried’s upcoming Trial
The trial for the former CEO of FTX is set to start on 2 October.
Ahead of the trial, his lawyers have recently filed papers against some of the evidence federal prosecutors want to use.
Specifically, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have argued that evidence related to charges that were previously dropped or not relevant in this case shouldn’t be allowed. This includes claims of bribing officials in the Bahamas, illegal campaign donations, and bank fraud linked to FTX’s US operations.