2020 Libertarian presidential candidate urges pardons of Snowden, Ulbricht

Arvin Vohra in suit tie, speaking at lectern labeled 'Libertarian National Convention' and bearing the national Libertarian Party torch-eagle logo (color photo)

Arvin Vohra, the 2018 Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate from Maryland, and a candidate for the 2020 Libertarian presidential nomination

Libertarian 2018 senatorial and 2020 presidential candidate Arvin Vohra was featured in Bitcoin.com News, who described him as a “principled libertarian firecracker” and lauded his pledge to, if elected president, immediately pardon nonviolent, victimless, so-called criminals.

From the article, “U.S. presidential candidate would pardon Snowden, Ulbricht on first day,” by C. Edward Kelso (July 7):

Former vice chair of the national Libertarian Party [LP] in the United States, Arvin Vohra, announced his candidacy for president. Among keys to his platform is his stated position: “On the first day of my presidency, I will pardon those in prison who have neither harmed anyone nor stolen anything. I will start with @Snowden and @RossUlbricht,” he recently tweeted.

Education entrepreneur and principled libertarian firecracker, Arvin Vohra, 39, is adept at stirring things up. Though well-known, infamously, within more radical and mainstream libertarian circles, Mr. Vohra’s desire to seek the official Libertarian Party presidential nomination was less so. He took to Twitter recently to change that perception, announcing he would, upon entering office, pardon the likes of Edward Snowden and Ross Ulbricht.

Mr. Snowden, 35, came to worldwide prominence during the Obama administration while employed as an analyst by National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Summer of 2013, he revealed massive spying on domestic and foreign citizens by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA in conjunction with E.U. partners and giant, private telecommunications companies.

His saga was chronicled by journalist Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. Their collaboration to bring Mr. Snowden’s smuggled classified information to light became the 2015 Academy Award-winning Best Documentary Feature, Citizenfour. [Snowden] remains in formal exile at an undisclosed location inside Russia.

Ross Ulbricht, 34, was arrested, charged, and convicted of operating Silk Road, an online site dedicated to bringing buyers and sellers together in a kind of underground eBay model. The major difference being Silk Road enabled trading of substances and services deemed illegal by most governments, including the United States.

Mr. Ulbricht was also prosecuted by the Obama administration around the same time as Mr. Snowden (eerily close). [Ulbricht] was ultimately convicted of conspiracies to traffic in identification theft and narcotics, along with running afoul of computer-hacking and money-laundering laws. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Both a circuit court and the U.S. Supreme Court have either upheld the conviction or denied further petition.

For his part, candidate Arvin Vohra is facing an uphill battle even before he potentially gets the chance to wield a presidential pardoning pen. It appears last go-round’s Libertarian Party nominee for vice president, who ran with Gary Johnson in 2016, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, 72, is the odds-on, projected favorite due to name recognition and his reputation for rather mainstream politics. Mr. Vohra will also campaign against movement-libertarian Internet celebrity Adam Kokesh.

Mr. Vohra’s enthusiasm for post-conviction justice also includes “all nonviolent drug users, all nonviolent drug traffickers, all nonviolent drug kingpins…anyone that’s in jail for crypto-currency crime [and] gun possession where they didn’t actually hurt anybody.”

He told Reason, “My number one goal is to end the welfare state and abolish the income tax. I’m going to be using my campaign to spread that message on the policy level, but also to help people realize there are so many ways to reduce government without changing policy, including opting out of government schools, including using cryptocurrency, including using the power of jury nullification.” Mr. Vohra joins New York Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe in the broader party’s courting of the crypto community.

This year, Libertarian national convention delegates adopted a resolution on behalf of Ross Ulbricht: “Resolved, the Libertarian Party calls upon President Trump to issue a full pardon for Ross Ulbricht!”

In 2016, national convention delegates adopted a resolution on behalf of Edward Snowden: “Resolved, the Libertarian Party supports a full pardon of whistleblower and hero Edward Snowden.”

The national Libertarian Party platform* states that “Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item.” Libertarian campaigns and party affiliates are in some cases accepting donations in bitcoin.

* As adopted in convention, July 2018, New Orleans, Louisiana: Section 2.7, “Money and Financial Markets.”

Browse the Libertarian Party platform at LP.org/platform.

Learn more about Vohra at his campaign website: VoteVohra.com