Nicholas J. Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, released the following statement today:
The Libertarian Party calls for dismissal of the unfounded criminal charges against alleged Silk Road founder and operator Ross Ulbricht, whose trial is set to begin tomorrow, and for the resignation of the New York prosecutors who trumped up charges against an innocent man.
Silk Road is a website that allows its users to maintain their privacy while trading goods and services by using Tor, an open network that protects anonymity, and the digital currency Bitcoin for payment.
Because the site is alleged to accommodate the buying and selling of illegal drugs, prosecutors have charged Ulbricht with a slew of crimes: narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering, engaging in a criminal enterprise, and conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent IDs.
The prosecution has failed to identify a single victim of any of the alleged offenses.
This trial grossly oversteps the bounds of a properly limited government: one that protects the lives, liberty and property of its citizens against perpetrators who would do them harm – and no more.
The perpetrators in this case are the FBI, which shut down Silk Road and may have illegally hacked the site, and New York prosecutors involved in this case.
Their immediate target is Ross Ulbricht. Their ultimate target is every American whose rights are threatened by this attempt to expand government control over the Internet and to violate individual liberties.
Attorney and Simple Justice blogger Scott Greenfield notes the freedoms that are at stake in this trial:
- ‘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- ‘A US citizen’s constitutional rights are being violated with vague allegations that do not cite specific crimes, a violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution.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.’
The prosecution may have further breached Ulbricht’s rights by inserting into the case allegations that he was involved in the planning of several homicides, even though no homicides or attempted homicides are charged as part of this case.
Discussing uncharged allegations of violent conduct appears to be a deliberate attempt to smear Mr. Ulbricht and prejudice the jury against him with accusations they know they can’t prove.
The attacks against Ulbricht are the work of a stubborn political class that refuses to acknowledge the utter failure of the Drug War. Dangerous drug use continues unabated since President Nixon declared his ‘War on Drugs’ in 1971.
In addition to dismissing the charges against Ulbricht, the Libertarian Party calls for:
- Scaling back the FBI. When a government agency abuses its power, it needs to be downsized.
- Downsizing all U.S. spy agencies. Their excessive size, spending and scope have led to abuses such as the Silk Road case.
- Cutting total government spending commensurate with these cuts – so politicians don’t use the proceeds for new wars or injustices perpetrated on the American people
- An immediate end to the failed War on Drugs
Whereas drugs, like alcohol and many pharmaceuticals, can be harmful to those who take them, the Drug Prohibition is far more dangerous. It encourages excessive drug use and more potent drugs. It demonizes and incarcerates people who have harmed no one else. It discourages labeling, testing and other responsible behaviors of free market merchants.
Worst of all, the Drug Prohibition, like the Alcohol Prohibition of the 1920s, provokes horrific and widespread violence in the U.S. and abroad.
We must stop harassing and criminalizing innocent Americans and go after the real perps: politicians who refuse to repeal bad laws and power-seeking government employees and agencies that violate individual rights.
To learn more about this case, visit http://freeross.org/