A book called American Kingpin by Nick Bilton claims to be the “unbelievable true story” of my son, Ross Ulbricht. After reading an online adaptation, I agree: it’s unbelievable.
Just the headline and subhead demonstrate the hyperbole, sensationalism and inaccuracy of this coverage:
- It calls the case a “murder mystery,” yet no murders occurred.
- The Silk Road was not a “billion-dollar enterprise.” The government says the site’s total revenue was a fraction of that ($183,961,921, 82% less).
- Ross is not “dangerous.” All his convictions were non-violent. He has no record of hurting anyone. No victims came forward at trial to claim that Ross had harmed them in any way. Rather, he is widely known as peaceful and compassionate. Read what 100 letters who actually know him have to say.
And that’s just the headline!
- Bilton portrays Ross as having arranged murder-for-hire, yet this was never prosecuted, never proven and Ross was not charged with this at trial.
Note: There is an unprosecuted indictment, almost 4 years old, in Maryland based on the investigation of ex-DEA agent Carl Mark Force. Force is now in prison for corruption along with ex-NSA/Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges. As computer experts, these two agents had unfettered access to the site and the ability to act as DPR, change evidence, steal money and more.
- Bilton conflates Dread Pirate Roberts and Ross. Yet, as Ross’s appeal states on page six, the government did not produce a single witness to authenticate a connection between Ross and any of the communications attributable to DPR.
Note: The question of multiple DPRs was touched on (and blocked) at trial, yet recent evidence shows that someone using the DPR account logged into the Silk Road seven weeks after Ross was arrested. Who was that? Bilton does not address that question. In addition, evidence of tampering of the Silk Road forum database has been discovered. None of this is mentioned in the book.
- Ross is not a computer programmer or coder and never was.
- Bilton extensively quotes Ross’ journal. Yet, as technical experts know, digital evidence is vulnerable to planting, deleting, altering. Incriminating content could have easily been planted when Ross was arrested (he was on an open source network), or at other times before or after. There are many issues with the laptop investigation, among them: the laptop crashed during investigation and one agent testified that he didn’t follow the guidelines when investigating it.
Ross is not violent. He is not a murderer. He is a danger to no one and should not be locked away, especially for life. I think Nick Bilton knows this, as he emailed me the following:
“I’ve spent a hundred hours talking to people who knew Ross over the years, and what I find truly remarkable is that there hasn’t been a single person who disliked him. People have told me he was kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and how he was helpful and caring to everyone, especially to those in society that most people judge and ignore.“ – Nick Bilton
Yet, presumably to further his career, Bilton has used unproven allegations to produce a book that smears a man who is fighting for his life.
Ross cannot defend himself or his reputation against this media onslaught. He is helpless to stop the feeding frenzy, sensationalizing, fictionalizing and profiting from his life. He’s just trying to survive yet another day in a cage, hoping that someday he will be given another chance at life.