Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to two life sentences plus 40 years for the so-called crime of creating and operating Silk Road, a website that facilitated anonymous transactions. Among the goods allegedly traded there were cannabis and other drugs. The U.S Supreme Court refused to hear Ulbricht’s appeal in June, which leaves only one route to liberty for Ulbricht: a presidential pardon. At its national convention last month, the Libertarian Party unanimously passed a resolution that said, “Resolved: The Libertarian Party calls upon President Trump to issue a full pardon for Ross Ulbricht!”
Ulbricht’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht, is leading a petition drive at FreeRoss.org calling for that pardon. As of this writing, 47,830 people have signed the petition.
At the time of Ulbricht’s trial in 2015, Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark issued a statement calling for all charges to be dismissed:
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.
To be clear, Silk Road specifically prohibited from the site anything involuntary, anything that created victims or that used force. This meant that selling stolen goods, child pornography, violent services, and anything similar were specifically banned. Ulbricht’s prosecutors never produced any victims of Silk Road or of Ross Ulbricht.
The government prosecution violated Ulbricht’s First Amendment rights to run a website and his Fourth Amendment rights to remain secure from unwarranted searches, which were probably conducted by the National Security Agency. The prosecutors probably tainted the judge and jury pools by publicizing allegations that Ulbricht had solicited contract killers — flimsy charges at best, for which Ulbricht was never even indicted. After two of the government’s star witnesses were no longer needed by the prosecution, they were convicted of corruption. DEA Agent Carl Mark Force was sentenced to six and a half years. Secret Service and NSA Agent Shaun Bridges was sentenced to six years and had his sentence extended for two more years when he tried to launder 1,606 bitcoins allegedly stolen from Silk Road.
Force and Bridges had arrested Curtis Green, a Silk Road administrator. During Green’s interrogation, they obtained his passwords and used them to loot bitcoin funds from the accounts of Silk Road vendors. They then duped “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Ulbricht’s alleged alias, into believing that Green had stolen the coins. Posing as cartel members, they then offered to get the bitcoin back. Force pretended to “catch and kill” Green, but Green was not killed. No bitcoins were recovered. That was the slender thread on which the government’s “murder for hire” allegations rested.
“Ross Ulbricht got a raw deal,” Green tweeted following after Ulbricht’s conviction. “There is so much more to the Silk Road story than people know, and I can’t yet talk about. I don’t believe Ross is dangerous or that it’s in his character to order a hit on anyone. He should never have gotten that horrible sentence. #FreeRoss”
Libertarians were in favor of decriminalizing marijuana long before marijuana was so widely accepted. Libertarians think bitcoin is a tremendous financial and technological innovation, and are against its criminalization. The Libertarian Party gladly accepts bitcoin political donations on behalf of the hundreds of Libertarians running for local, state, and federal office this year — all of whom will defend your right to trade freely with others in the currency of your choice.
“In any moral sense of the word, Ulbricht is not guilty of any crime,” Sarwark said. “Hosting a website where adults can buy and sell drugs should not be a crime. No one is involuntarily harmed or defrauded. Making trade in drugs illegal is the real crime against human nature. It’s a crime of politicians against the people. Using bitcoin as a currency is not a crime. Devaluing the dollar at the Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate of 2 percent, on the other hand, leads to a loss of 18 percent in the value of your savings over 10 years. That’s a crime, another crime of politicians against the people.”