Frenchman Prosecuted for Mentioning Bitcoin in Conversation

The fact stated in the title of the article seems unbelievable in the context of democracy and freedom of speech. The oldest existing republic of Europe and the world has proven lack of tolerance towards one of its citizens, Pierre Ethève, who has not committed any crimes, but who was bold enough to withstand injustice addressing the existing norms and laws of the country and the entire European Union.


The Story of Pierre

Less than a day ago Pierre Ethève has told his story to Reddit users, not only to warn others, but mostly to provide an understanding of the background of the problem. Closer examination of the situation creates more questions than answers. However, who might take the will and responsibility to reply?

Mr. Ethève has entered the Roissy CDG Airport of France in good mood and with a feeling of comfort. Being just 30 years old, already successfully working in the finance sector, he planned to land in London Heathrow, United Kingdom in less than 3 hours. The time to boarding has passed uneventfully during an informal conversation with his friend.

Both have never thought that there might be prohibited topics not to be touched on in a chat. The friend of Ethève was willing to know more about Bitcoin, from someone competent. Pierre Ethève has never hidden the fact he was a Bitcoin enthusiast as it is no crime or taboo.

The conversation has evolved during security control, when Pierre Ethève was asked to proceed for a detailed examination. Finally, the person in charge of the process from BAU claimed:

“You're under arrest, come with me.”

After requesting to see an ID card, Pierre Ethève has undergone something very similar to an interrogation with compassion and subjectivity. The first block included questions on drugs and cannabis. Mr. Ethève negotiated accusations of taking, owning, distributing or even supporting the legalisation of drugs, and cannabis in particular.

The next block was bigger, but had nothing in common with national law. While Pierre tried to understand the reason of his condition, he was asked whether he knows what Silk Road is. The denial moved the policeman to anger.

“Have you ever been convicted of fiscal fraud?”

Pierre Ethève was shocked and surprised. He had no reason to lie:

“No, never.”

The insolence of the official knew no limit. He continued to ask if Pierre had Bitcoins and if so, how many, and why he had not declared them at customs. Even the fact that the coins are at home, assigned to his desktop machine, just stored and not used for any kind of purchase did not subdue the confidence of the policeman: Bitcoins are for buying drugs, and in the case that a person should possess any, then he or she has already bought or is about to buy illegal substances.

The finale was worthy of a Pulitzer Prize acceptance speech:

“I'm afraid you'll have to spend some time in custody before we can resolve this situation; in France it is illegal to use other currencies than the euro.”

The entrance into the room of a second policeman has decreased the tension. Pierre Ethève has been sent to a physician, who has conducted a drugs test. The result was negative. Still, the officers have threatened Pierre with confiscation of his data and warned him that next time he speaks about Bitcoin, he should be ready to be arrested.

The Repercussions of Illiteracy

Observing Pierre Ethève separately from society, we see that he has suffered shock and moral damage, and had to take the next flight. Time, as the most valuable resource ever was taken from him for no reason.

The person in charge might have been in a bad mood, suffered due to Bitcoin in some way or simply felt aggression towards Pierre. All that is possible, but unacceptable for a person vested with power. The violation of professional standards is clear, but the victim is afraid to go to court to prove his innocence. Pierre Ethève may even suffer from further ignorance and lack of education.

Placing him within the current system of society, we see that the scale of illiteracy in the field of cryptographic matters is not just high; it might harm people physically and mentally. Despite the lack of regulation in France, the presence of a voiced opinion has not affected all people, but it has created a distorted image of Bitcoin and its users.

Dear readers, we would like to know your opinion. What should Pierre Ethève do next? How might general attitudes be changed? Have you ever suffered in a similar way?



·         Pierre Ethève on Reddit

·         France on BitLegal


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