“This case is the birth of law as applied to our digital future. Watch it as a spectator at your peril.”
– Scott H. Greenfield, criminal defense attorney

Ross Ulbricht is serving a double life sentence + 40 years without parole for all non-violent charges associated with creating the Silk Road website. Passionate about privacy and free markets, he was 26 years old when he made the site. He had no prior record and no victim was named at trial.

Silk Road was an online marketplace with an emphasis on user privacy. Using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin on the Tor browser, people anonymously exchanged a variety of goods, both legal and illegal, including drugs (most commonly small amounts of cannabis). Prohibited was anything involuntary that created victims or used force.

Ross is now serving his sixth year in prison and has paid a heavy price. He was an idealistic entrepreneur who never intended harm. He has expressed profound remorse, and if released tomorrow, he would never break the law again. Ross clings to the hope of a second chance and dreams of a future where he can use his education, knowledge and skills to contribute to his community and society as a whole.

“Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness, however they individually saw fit. [It] turned out to be a naive and costly idea that I deeply regret.”
– Ross in sentencing letter to his judge

The Silk Road Case

USP Florence Maximum Security Prison – July 2018
The investigation, trial and sentencing were riddled with corruption, abuse, and violations, including:

The Double Life Sentence

Judge Katherine Forrest said she would give Ross “the severest sentence possible.” Restrained by law from issuing the death penalty, she gave him a walking death sentence instead. Ross’s appeal points out grotesque disparity between Ross’s life sentence—which is unheard of for a young man with no criminal history and all non-violent charges—and the sentences of other Silk Road defendants.

Judge Forrest used uncharged allegations that were never ruled on by a jury to justify her sentence, in violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. She also violated the First Amendment by basing her sentence, in part, on what she perceived was Ross’s political philosophy.

“The district court sentenced petitioner Ross Ulbricht to life without parole, the harshest punishment our legal system allows short of death. That sentence depended on facts that were never found by the jury.”
Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Drug Policy Alliance

The “Hit” that Never Happened

Tweet by Curtis Green, alleged “victim”
The New York prosecution alleged that Ross planned murders-for-hire, but never charged him for it. All Ross’s charges at trial were non-violent. An indictment in Maryland included the allegations, yet it was never prosecuted and, almost five years later, was dismissed entirely. Ross always denied the allegations, those who know him never believed them, and even alleged target Curtis Green has publicly stated he doesn’t think Ross ordered a hit on anyone and is a fervent supporter.

This smear was used to deprive Ross of bail, prejudice the jury, and justify a barbaric sentence. That this was never ruled on by a jury or proven in court, yet used to condemn Ross to a life sentence, was a major question in Ross’s petition to the Supreme Court.

On June 28, 2018, the Supreme Court denied Ross’s appeal. This denial failed to uphold internet privacy and fair trials, and also ended Ross’s options for direct appeal.

But we can’t give up. We cannot let him live out the rest of his life in a cage. We are now seeking clemency from the President. To that end, we have launched a petition to free Ross.

Within the first month, we surpassed 60,000 signatures, and now have over 140,000. We need yours, too! Please take a minute to sign and share the petition far and wide!

We Need Your Help

USP Florence Maximum Security Prison – July 2018
This is a long, hard fight. We are up against the full force of the federal government. We are not the family of a wealthy kingpin. We are regular people battling a Goliath. We can’t do this alone. We will not give up, but we have a steep mountain to climb.

Please join us, not just for Ross, but against injustice and for your rights.

Since his arrest, Ross has been steadfastly supported by his family and friends, as well as many across the political spectrum and the tech community. Over 80 organizations and major figures have supported the efforts against the injustice done to him.