Bitcoin mining thief flees Iceland on flight carrying PM: state broadcaster

The Monster Machines that Mine Bitcoin
The Monster Machines that Mine Bitcoin

An Icelandic man arrested on suspicion of stealing about 600 computers used to mine the cryptocurrency Bitcoin escaped prison and fled the country on a commercial flight to Sweden, Icelandic state broadcaster RUV said on Wednesday.

The same Icelandair flight was also taking Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir to a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Stockholm, RUV reported, without specifying its sources.

The escapee was among 11 people arrested on Feb. 2 on suspicion of taking the computers with an estimated value of 200 million Icelandic crowns ($2 million), Icelandic police said at the time. No criminal case in Iceland has ever involved larger sums of money.

RUV, quoting Pall Winkel, director of Iceland’s Prison and Probation Administration, said the man escaped from an open, minimum-security prison early on Tuesday and boarded the Icelandair flight the same morning to Stockholm.

It said the heist suspect remained at large and Icelandic police had asked their Swedish counterparts for help in apprehending him.

“Swedish police have, as have other European countries, been informed by Iceland about a detained man who has escaped,” Swedish national police spokeswoman Malin Nafver said, declining to comment further.

Officials at Iceland’s prison and probation administration could not be reached for comment.

The stolen computers were specially programmed to mine Bitcoin. Police have yet to locate the computers.

The price of bitcoin took a dive Tuesday, falling by more than $200 in under 20 minutes, a move that could have been the result of a single seller unloading a sizeable amount of the digital currency.