Updated — March 7, 12:25 p.m. ET:
The man Newsweek claimed is the reclusive creator of Bitcoin, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, told the Associated Press Thursday he had nothing to do with the digital currency after reporters chased the man across Los Angeles.
In a stunning twist, Nakamoto, speaking in an interview with the news agency, said he had never even heard of Bitcoin until his son told him he was contacted by a reporter three weeks ago. According to the AP, Nakamoto acknowledged several details in Newsweek's report were correct, including that he once worked for a defense contractor, but he strongly disputed the assertion that he was "the face behind Bitcoin."
Since Bitcoin's birth five years ago, the digital cryptocurrency's creator has remained a mystery. "I got nothing to do with it," Nakamoto told the AP, repeatedly.
Leah McGrath Goodman, who reported the Newsweek story, responded to the news: "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."
Newsweek published a statement on the article, saying "Ms. Goodman's research was conducted under the same high editorial and ethical standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years. Newsweek stands strongly behind Ms. Goodman and her article. Ms. Goodman's reporting was motivated by a search for the truth surrounding a major business story, absent any other agenda. The facts as reported point toward Mr. Nakamoto's role in the founding of Bitcoin."
Meanwhile, the alleged real "Satoshi Nakamoto," in his first forum post on the P2P Foundation site in years said, "I am not Dorian Nakamoto," further deepening the mystery of who is actually behind Bitcoin.
Earlier Thursday, members of the press camped out on Nakamoto's front door in Temple City, Calif., hoping to speak with the 64-year-old Japanese-American father.
Nakamoto was later seen getting into the passenger seat of a powder blue Toyota Prius with an Associated Press reporter as the two drove for about an hour around the Temple City area and toward downtown Los Angeles. Journalists from BuzzFeed, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, and other media organizations followed behind.
Nakamoto told reporters at his door, "No questions right now. I'm not involved in Bitcoin, OK? Wait a minute, I want free lunch first, I'm going to go with this guy," and got into the Prius of the AP reporter.
A reporter for the Japanese-language channel Nippon said Nakamoto was asked in Japanese if he was Nakamoto, and he replied in the affirmative.
The press trailed Nakamoto and the AP reporter to a sushi restaurant, but they soon got up and left when other reporters sat down at nearby tables.
Four cars of reporters followed the Prius to Figueroa Courtyard, where the AP's offices are located. Nakamoto and the reporter headed inside and jumped into an elevator. The rest of the press tried to follow behind, but ended up waiting in the lobby.
"This is the strangest day in journalism," said Tamara Audi, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
One AP employee who refused to be named told BuzzFeed he was unaware if Nakamoto had been served his promised lunch. AP employees answered no further questions.
A woman who said she worked with the property asked the media to leave unless they were employees of the Associated Press or NPR, which also has an office in the building. She said the AP did not ask for the reporters to leave.
After about three hours, a security guard told reporters a man being interviewed by the AP had left.
Contact Hunter Schwarz at hunter.schwarz+DONE@buzzfeed.com.
Jon Passantino is a deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jon Passantino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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