FAQ

Who is Ross Ulbricht?

Ross is a 34-year old with no criminal history who is currently serving a double life sentence without parole + 40 years, for charges associated with creating the Silk Road website. All his charges are non-violent, and no victim was named at trial. Read what family and friends say about him.

What was the Silk Road?

The Silk Road anonymous market was an e-commerce website designed to protect user security and privacy. It was based on a free market philosophy that allowed people to buy and sell items anonymously, using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin on the Tor browser. The guiding philosophy of the site was that it is no one else’s business who you are or what you’re buying and selling so long as the transaction is voluntary and no third party is harmed. Users were not told specifically what to list for sale but some items were prohibited including stolen items, weapons, child pornography, counterfeits, and generally anything used to harm or defraud others. Many legal items were exchanged such as antibiotics, books, art, clothing. However, some vendors quickly realized that the site’s anonymity made it an ideal platform for selling illegal drugs.

Why did Ross create the Silk Road?

When he created the Silk Road website Ross was a 26-year-old libertarian who wanted to give people the experience of a truly free market. He worked on the Ron Paul campaign, studied Austrian economics and was passionate about freedom.

Did Ross arrange murders-for- hire?

The governement used uncharged and unproven murder-for-hire allegations that never actually occured to deny Ross bail, smear him in the media, bias his jurors, and justify the life sentence he ultimately received. The prosecution never brought the accusations to trial, no one was murdered, and Ross denied the allegations. More info at Making a Murderer.

Why was Ross sentenced to double life + 40 years?

Ross was given this sentence based on charges associated with creating the Silk Road website. All the charges were non-violent and it is an unheard of sentence for a first-time offender. To justify her draconian sentence, Judge Forrest heavily relied on uncharged conduct that was never ruled on by the jury. This is now one of the main arguments in the Supreme Court petition. More info at Sentenced for Uncharged Crimes.

Was Ross offered a plea deal?

Ross was not offered a deal, he was offered a threat. Ross was arrested on a criminal complaint of drug trafficking that carried a sentence of ten years to life. Assistant US Attorney Serrin Turner, in his first conversation with Ross, threatened that if Ross didn’t plead guilty to the charges, he would add the Kingpin charge, raising the minimum to 20 years. Either way, Turner said he would recommend a life sentence to the judge. Ross’s only other option was to cooperate with Turner to prosecute Silk Road vendors and administrators. Ross refused and was finally indicted on Feb 4, 2014.

What is the evidence of corruption?

In 2015, approximately two months after Ross’s trial, it was revealed that two federal agents (now in prison) at the core of the Silk Road investigation in Baltimore — DEA agent Carl Mark Force and Secret Service Special Agent Shaun Bridges — were charged for corruption and offenses directly relating to their investigation of the Silk Road website. Both agents had unrestrained, high-level access to the the site. More info at The Corruption.

What are the next steps in the case?

On December 22, 2017, Ross’s legal team filed a cert petition to the Supreme Court. On February 5, 2018, twenty-one organizations filed five amicus briefs in support of the petition. As of May 2018, the Court has not rejected the petition and is expected to hold it pending its decision in another important Fourth Amendment case: Carpenter v. U.S. All the latest info on our Supreme Court page.

Why is this case so important? How will it impact me?

Ross’s case presents two important questions of constitutional law, and has broad significance impacting both our Fourth and Sixth Amendment protections. Whenever anyone is deprived of rights in the U.S. criminal justice system, it impacts all Americans. When our constitutional protections are not upheld, they are weakened in general. Policy in the U.S., for better or worse, influences and impacts the rest of the world. Freedom is under assault worldwide and it is our choice what kind of future we want to live into.

How is Ross holding up in prison?

Ross is an exceptional person and disciplines himself to remain optimistic. When the prison is not on lockdown, he spends time outside and in the law library, as well as the chapel where he meditates. Ross never has a bad word to say about anyone, including the people who put him in prison. He remains hopeful and keeps working on his case almost everyday while trying to stay safe in a place full of violent people. Read some of Ross’s writings from prison.

Can I communicate with Ross?

Unlike other inmates, Ross is deprived of email privileges, but you can send him a letter or a card. Getting encouraging words from supporters always means a lot to him. See our Contact page.

Where do donations go?

100% of donations go toward Ross’s defense fund (primarily for legal fees). If you would like to contribute, visit the Free Ross Store or the Donate page. Every bit helps! We’re grateful for your support.

Who runs this website?

Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’s mother and advocate, runs the Free Ross website with the help of a few close friends. Lyn is also behind the Free Ross social media accounts.

How can I help?

There are many ways! Please see the Donate and Take Action pages.