Ross Ulbricht Case Overview

Ross Ulbricht, a young, peaceful first-time offender, is serving a double life sentence without parole, plus 40 years, for all non-violent charges associated with creating the Silk Road website. An Eagle Scout and scholarship student, he was a 26-year-old idealistic libertarian, passionate about privacy and free markets, when he made the site. No victim was named at trial.

Ross has expressed profound remorse for creating Silk Road and any harm that it caused.

Silk Road was an online marketplace similar to eBay, that emphasized privacy and used Bitcoin as the means of exchange. Based on the non-aggression principle, it allowed people to voluntarily buy and sell what they chose, as long as no third party was harmed. Consequently, the site prohibited child pornography, violent services, stolen property, and generally anything used to harm or defraud others. Items exchanged included books, art, clothing, and electronics. However, because of the site’s anonymity, many also chose to exchange drugs, most commonly personal use amounts of marijuana. Ross was not accused of selling drugs or illegal items himself, but was held responsible for this.

Highly politicized, the case was the pet project of Senator Chuck Schumer, who publicly and incredibly proclaimed Ross guilty before trial. Ross was scapegoated and prosecuted by Preet Bharara, Schumer’s longtime chief counsel and collaborator. Presiding judge Katherine Forrest was recommended by Schumer to the bench and partially justified her sentence by calling Ross someone “of privilege.” Obama’s Justice Department and Robert Mueller’s FBI, followed by Comey’s, were in charge of the investigation.

Ross is the victim of judicial and prosecutorial abuse, and of the media, which relentlessly smeared him with unprosecuted, false allegations—all dismissed—of planning violence that never occurred. His case was tainted by corrupt agents now in prison, warrantless spying and lies under oath by the FBI and AUSA, proven evidence tampering, preclusion of exculpatory evidence, and much more.

Rife with abuse, this case—the investigation, trial and sentencing— sets dangerous precedent. Ross and his legal team at Williams & Connolly LLP, led by Kannon Shanmugam and supported by 21 groups from across the political spectrum, petitioned the Supreme Court challenging important Fourth and Sixth Amendment violations, but were denied.

Since his arrest, Ross has been steadfastly supported by his family and friends, as well as many eminent individuals and organizations. These include Reason Foundation, Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, R Street Institute, FreedomWorks, Downsize DC, Gun Owners of America, American Conservative Union Foundation, the Libertarian Party, and seventy others. He also has widespread grassroots support, including from the Blockchain and liberty communities. His recent petition for clemency is steadily growing with over 135,000 signatures to date.

Ross is serving his sixth year in prison. During that time, he has been a model inmate—leading classes, tutoring, and helping fellow inmates cope with the challenges of incarceration. He has never received a disciplinary sanction. Based solely on his life sentence, and despite his non-violent history and low security score, he is being held at a maximum-security prison.

Even in the face of his barbaric sentence, 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, society and country.

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