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Bankman-Fried loses bid to be released from prison ahead of trial

New York — Sam Bankman-Fried, the indicted founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, on Thursday lost his bid to be released from jail during his fraud trial next week.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers on Monday asked US judge Lewis Kaplan in New York to grant him temporary release, arguing they would not otherwise be able to properly represent him.

They said they would need to speak with him after each trial day to prepare for the next day’s witnesses and testimony, which they could not do if he were taken back to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn at the end of each trial day.

“He is the defence’s key resource and should be entitled to participate meaningfully in his own defence,” his lawyers wrote in a letter to Kaplan, adding that he would either be with his lawyers or with a private security guard at a temporary New York City residence at all times.

Prosecutors opposed the request in a September 27 letter to Kaplan, calling the challenges the 31-former billionaire’s lawyers flagged “inconveniences common to all incarcerated defendants”.

They said Bankman-Fried had be given two laptops to review evidence delivered to him on hard drives in jail to help him prepare for trial, which they called “accommodations beyond those accorded to most detainees”.

Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits to plug losses at Alameda Research, a crypto-focused hedge fund he controlled.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty. He has acknowledged risk management failures, but said he did not steal funds.

Kaplan jailed him on August 11, after finding he probably tampered with witnesses at least twice, including by sharing former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison’s private writings with a New York Times reporter.

Ellison, also Bankman-Fried’s former romantic partner, has pleaded guilty to fraud and is set to testify against him.

The trial starts on October 3 and could last up to six weeks.