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'I'm Sorry,' Says Man Who Claimed To Be Bitcoin's Creator

Days after he published a lengthy blog post in which he claimed to be "Satoshi Nakamoto," the alias used to create the bitcoin cryptocurrency, Australian Craig Wright has erased the post and replaced it with one that says he doesn't "have the courage" to prove his claim.

Here's what seems to be the central paragraph in the new post:

"When the rumors began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this."

The mysterious short posting, which replaces one in which Wright, 45, pontificated at length about Jean-Paul Sartre, signatures and and codes, is titled "I'm Sorry." It ends with a farewell, "And goodbye" — implying that Wright now hopes to withdraw from the public eye.

As we reported on Monday, Wright's claim of being the mastermind behind bitcoin was met with suspicion — particularly on reddit, where many questioned the "proof" he had posted online, as well as at The Economist, one of three news outlets Wright spoke to about his claim.

The BBC notes today that Wright's new message means he won't follow up on his promise "to move some of the virtual currency from one of its early address blocks, an act many believe can only be done by the tech's creator."

In its report analyzing Wright's claim, The Economist said Wright had demonstrated that he possesses at least one crucial key for a bitcoin block (or batch of transactions), adding, "This assessment is shared by two bitcoin insiders who have sat through the same demonstration: Jon Matonis, a bitcoin consultant and former director of the Bitcoin Foundation, and Gavin Andresen."

But the financial site also noted, "Such demonstrations can be stage-managed; and information that allows us to go through the verification process independently was provided too late for us to do so fully."

In the new message, Wright also mentions those bitcoin experts:

"I know that this weakness will cause great damage to those that have supported me, and particularly to Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen. I can only hope that their honour and credibility is not irreparably tainted by my actions. They were not deceived, but I know that the world will never believe that now."

The new message has now been placed throughout Wright's website, throwing new doubt on his claim to have been the key figure in creating a currency that holds nearly $7 billion in total value.

It's a sharp turnaround from Monday, when Wright made waves worldwide after he said he was emerging from the shadows to confirm suspicions (which had risen back in December) that he was Satoshi Nakamoto.

"Satoshi is dead," Wright had written in Monday's blog post. "But this is only the beginning."

That statement had seemed to promise Wright intended to move forward with verification and embrace the bitcoin community. However, Wright now seems to be saying that he instead wants to keep a rather extreme version of the pledge he made to the BBC earlier this week: that he would never sit before a camera again.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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