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). Although law enforcement shut down the Silk Road site Oct. 2 after arresting Ross, DPR posted on the Silk Road forum six days later and the Silk Road site was up and running again in less than a month.
By its own admission, the FBI has no documentation of how they found the Silk Road server, which comprises the bulk of their evidence. Without forensic documentation there is no guarantee that the evidence is valid or even that it wasn’t fabricated. The explanation of how the FBI found the server has been widely discredited by technical and security experts, one calling it “inconsistent with reality”; another “impossible“; and another a lie and gibberish.
Ross has been arraigned in New York on a superseding indictment. He is pleading not guilty to all charges: narcotics trafficking; computer hacking; money laundering; engaging in a criminal enterprise; and conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent IDs. The government cites no victims for any of these alleged crimes or their other allegations. Ross’ family and friends believe he is falsely accused and innocent of the charges.
The case is scheduled to be tried beginning January 5, 2015 in Judge Katherine Forrest’s courtroom, #15A, Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Courthouse, 500 Pearl St., New York, NY.
Although initially alleged to have planned six murders, Ross was never indicted in New York for any. New York also failed to include the one charge remaining in a Maryland indictment, which is a year old and possibly vulnerable to legal challenges. Joshua Dratel, Ross’ attorney, believes that the absence of the Maryland charge demonstrates the allegation has no merit. Otherwise we believe the prosecution would have indicted Ross for this. Basically the prosecution wants its cake and eat it too: smear Ross’ reputation and prejudice a jury without having to prove anything.
Despite not charging Ross in two different indictments, the prosecution used the murder-for-hire allegations to argue against bail and claim that Ross, who has no priors or record of violence, is dangerous. In addition, no victim is named for this or any of the charges in the prosecution’s complaint or the New York indictment. The FBI affidavit states that there is no record of any actual homicide.
(Note: The murder-for-hire allegation is now included as surplusage, which is an “uncharged crime” mentioned in the narcotics trafficking count of the New York Indictment. It is NOT a formal charge and requires NO PROOF. The defense has requested that the court have it removed, as it is prejudicial and irrelevant to the charges, but the judge denied this request).
This case opens new legal territory. It will set precedent for the 21st century and pave the way for new laws and interpretations that could impact the future and freedom of the Internet. Bad law could be ushered in that we will be forced to live with.
As attorney Scott Greenfield said in regard to this case: This is the birth of law as applied to our digital future. Watch it as a spectator at your peril.
- 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 to 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 to the US Constitution. In addition, his Fourth Amendment rights have been violated with illegal warrants and searches and seizures lacking any warrant. 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.