Bitcoin, released to the world in 2009 by a person or people called Satoshi Nakamoto, is not backed by a central bank or a government and is seen as an alternative payment system. In February 2013, Bitcoin went into the mainstream as a monetary crisis threatened to bankrupt Cyprus, seen as a safer bet. Early adopters of Bitcoin have been richly rewarded as the price has soared – in one case, a young Norwegian bought a house from an $850,000 windfall on a US$22 investment.
Alleged bitcoin founder Dorian Nakamoto hires lawyer to clear name
Engineer hires lawyer to bolster his denial of magazine claim that he invented digital currency
The man Newsweek claimed is the creator of bitcoin has hired a lawyer in an attempt to clear his name, repeating a denial that he has ever had anything to do with the digital currency.
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto - in a statement issued by his lawyer, Ethan Kirschner - said he "did not create, invent or otherwise work on" bitcoin. In the magazine's return to print this month after more than a year, Newsweek's cover story declared Nakamoto to be the "face behind bitcoin". Despite the repeated denials, the magazine has stood behind the story. He did not say if he would sue the magazine.
The 64-year-old engineer repeated that he had not heard of bitcoin until his son told him a reporter asked about it in mid-February. He said he has not been able to find steady work for 10 years and had cancelled his internet service last year "due to severe financial distress".
Nakamoto added that he is trying to recover from prostate surgery he had in 2012 and a stroke he suffered last October.
"My prospects for gainful employment has been harmed because of Newsweek's article," he said in the statement. " Newsweek's false report has been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress for myself, my 93-year-old mother, my siblings and their families."
Newsweek said it had not received any statement or letter from Nakamoto or his legal counsel. "If and when we do, we will respond as necessary," it said.
On March 6, the day Newsweek posted its story online, about a dozen journalists descended on the home where Nakamoto lives with his mother in Temple City, California. Nakamoto denied ever being involved with bitcoin many times.
The magazine developed its thesis on the creator's identity by matching Nakamoto's name, educational history, career, political views and writing style to the alleged creator of bitcoin, who has been known only as "Satoshi Nakamoto". Many believe the name to be a pseudonym.
It is not clear whether Nakamoto sought legal counsel or was approached after the story and his denial reverberated around the globe. Kirschner's website says he handles business and entertainment matters .
Nakamoto said his statement would be his last public statement on the matter. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to requests for further comment.
In the days since the Newsweek story and Nakamoto's denial made headlines, a barrage of criticism has been levelled at the magazine.
Meanwhile, Nakamoto has been the target of charitable donations. Nearly 1,900 people have contributed bitcoins worth about US$29,000 to an account created by bitcoin entrepreneur Andreas Antonopoulos. It seemed "increasingly unlikely" that Nakamoto is the digital currency's creator, said Antonopoulos. He said the fund was created to "soften the damage caused by irresponsible journalism".
Antonopoulos said he plans to convert the bitcoins into US dollars at the end of this month and deliver them to Dorian Nakamoto or donate them to a charity of his choice.
Newsweek relaunched its print edition this month after discontinuing it in December 2012.