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Self-proclaimed bitcoin inventor denies forging documents to support claim

FILE PHOTO: Australian computer scientist Craig Wright at the High Court in London

(Corrects typographical error in paragraph 8)

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) -An Australian computer scientist who says he invented bitcoin told a London court on Tuesday he had never forged documents to try to prove his hotly-disputed claim, as he began his evidence in a legal battle over ownership of the cryptocurrency.

Craig Wright says he is the author of a 2008 white paper, the foundational text of bitcoin, published in the name "Satoshi Nakamoto".

But the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) has taken Wright to court, it says to stop him suing bitcoin developers and to preserve the open-source nature of the world's best-known and most popular cryptocurrency.

COPA is asking London's High Court to rule that Wright is not Satoshi. It says he has repeatedly forged documents to substantiate his claim, before changing his story when the alleged fabrications are spotted.

Wright, however, denies relying on fake records and has blamed others, including former lawyers and associates, for any inauthentic documents.

The 54-year-old began the first of six days of evidence on Tuesday at a high-stakes hearing which is the culmination of years of speculation about the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto.

COPA's lawyer, Jonathan Hough, asked Wright: "Have you ever forged or falsified a document in support of your claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto?" Wright replied: "No."

"Have you ever knowingly presented a forged or falsified document in support of your claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto," Hough asked. Wright replied: "I have not."

Hough put numerous alleged forgeries to Wright, including an academic paper with handwritten notes which Wright has claimed prompted his decision to use the name Satoshi Nakamoto.

COPA says the document contains a forged timestamp with numbers in visibly different fonts to make it look as if it pre-dates the bitcoin white paper.

Hough said to Wright: "This is a document forged by you as part of the origin myth."

Wright said he did not forge the document, adding: "If I forged that document, it would be perfect."

(Reporting by Sam TobinEditing by Ros Russell)