Bitcoin mystery deepens: Outed 'inventor' denies role

Dorian S. Nakamoto denies the Newsweek cover story that claimed he is the founder of Bitcoin and says he had never even heard of the digital currency until his son told him he had been contacted by a reporter three weeks ago.
Dorian S. Nakamoto denies the Newsweek cover story that claimed he is the founder of Bitcoin and says he had never even heard of the digital currency until his son told him he had been contacted by a reporter three weeks ago. AP Photo

Los Angeles - Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto said Thursday that he is not the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world's most popular digital currency came to be.

The denial came after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin.

In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Associated Press, Nakamoto, 64, denied he had anything to do with it and said he had never heard of bitcoin until his son told him he had been contacted by a Newsweek reporter three weeks ago.

Nakamoto acknowledged that many of the details in Newsweek's report are correct, including that he once worked for a defense contractor, and that his given name at birth was Satoshi. But he strongly disputed the magazine's assertion that he is "the face behind bitcoin."

"I got nothing to do with it," he said, repeatedly.

Newsweek stands by its story, which kicked off the relaunch of its print edition after 15 months and reorganization under new ownership.

Since bitcoin's birth in 2009, the currency's creator has remained a mystery. The person - or people - behind the digital currency's inception have been known only as "Satoshi Nakamoto," which many observers believed to be a pseudonym.

After Newsweek posted the story on its website early Thursday, Nakamoto said his home was bombarded by phone calls. By mid-morning, a dozen reporters were waiting outside the modest two-story home on the residential street in Temple City, Calif., where he lives.

Nakamoto said he is a native of Beppu, Japan who came to the U.S. as a child in 1959.

Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman, who spent two months researching the story, told the AP: "I stand completely by my exchange with Mr. Nakamoto. There was no confusion whatsoever about the context of our conversation - and his acknowledgment of his involvement in bitcoin."

The magazine pulled together its thesis on the creator's identity by matching Nakamoto's name, educational history, career, anti-government bent and writing style to the alleged creator of bitcoin. It also quoted Nakamoto's estranged wife and other family members who said they weren't sure he is the creator.

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