The Case, The Goal and Why this Matters
The Federal government claims that Ross Ulbricht created and operated the anonymous online marketplace Silk Road, under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR). He was arraigned in New York on four counts, to which he pleaded not guilty: narcotics trafficking; computer hacking; money laundering; and engaging in a criminal enterprise.
However, the actual allegations are for hosting a website that provided a platform where these laws were broken. He is not alleged to have possessed or sold drugs; organized people in an illegal enterprise; hacked into a computer; laundered legal tender; or entered into an agreement to do these things. Rather, it is alleged that providing the platform is equivalent to entering into a criminal conspiracy with site users and that the site host is responsible for end user conduct. Please see http://freeross.org/counts-against-ulbricht-are-deeply-flawed/ for a fuller explanation of why the charges are unconstitutionally vague and misapplied and threaten to set dangerous precedent.
Although initially charged with planning six murders, Ross was not indicted in New York for any. In November prosecutor Serrin Turner used the murder-for-hire allegations to argue against bail being granted, yet he did not indict Ulbricht for these allegations in February. In addition, no victim is named in the prosecution’s complaint or the New York indictment, and the FBI affidavit states that there is no record of any actual homicide. There is still an indictment in Maryland alleging one murder-for-hire crime. We are convinced it is false and predict that this remaining accusation of planned violence will go the way of the other five.
(Note: The murder-for-hire allegation is now an “uncharged crime” mentioned in the narcotics trafficking conspiracy section of the New York Indictment. It is NOT a formal charge and requires no proof).
This case will set precedent for the 21st century and pave the way for new law and interpretations that could impact the future and freedom of the Internet.
This case opens new legal territory and the government is poised to set Internet and financial law with it. Bad law could be ushered in and we will be forced to live with it.
- If Ulbricht is convicted, it opens the door for the censure and erosion of a free Internet. Under present law, website hosts are not held responsible in civil cases for illegal actions on their sites. This case could set precedent and open the door for criminal liability for web hosts.
- A US citizen’s constitutional rights are being violated with vague allegations that do not cite specific crimes, a violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. If the government can misapply the law against Ulbricht, it can do it to any of us.
- In its documents, the government equates the desire for privacy (use of Tor for example) with criminal intent.
- This case represents the first challenge to the government’s attempt to expand the money laundering statute to include digital currency.
Please see http://freeross.org/category/documents/ for further explanation.
- To protect individual freedom and privacy;
- To provide Ross with what every American citizen is promised: a fair trial.
- To have Ross acquitted of all charges.
We are working hard with the best legal team to defend Ross, but are up against the full force of the federal government. We are not the family of a wealthy kingpin. We own no bitcoin. We are regular people taking on a giant fight against a Goliath. It will take much more money than we have.