Was the Silk Road Trial Fair?

February 17, 2016

The Dark Web burst into the general consciousness with underground Web site called the Silk Road was busted.  Ross Ulbricht aka the Dread Pirate Roberts ran the crime ridden Web site Silk Road that was a darknet playground for drug pushers, sex traffickers, money launders, hackers, and just about every other relatable crime that wants an untraceable presence.  The Naked Security blog by Sophos proposes the question “Ross Ulbricht Appeals Silk Road Conviction-Did He Get A Fair Trial?”

In 2015, Ulbricht was convicted for money laundering, drug and hacking-related charges, and sentenced to two life terms with an additional forty years for running the entire Silk Road network.  Ulbricht’s lawyers appealed the case based on the grounds that the law enforcement officials were guilty themselves of stealing bitcoins and extorting from Ulbricht.  The evidence proving this was, of course, withheld in the trial and any favorable pro-Ulbricht evidence was suppressed.

“Ulbricht’s family paints a very different picture of him than federal prosecutors.  The family has been waging a campaign to “Free Ross Ulbricht” that accuses the government of framing Ulbricht as part of the “failed War on Drugs,” and depicting his case as a milestone in the government’s crackdown on Internet freedom.  Ulbricht’s defense attorneys argued at trial, and in his appeal, that Ulbricht had founded the Silk Road using the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, but that he had sold his stake and was framed by subsequent operators.”

Ulbricht’s family says that the two corrupt agents Shaun Bridges and Carl Force had administrative privileges on Silk Road and would have been able to manipulate information in their favor.  They claim the information was withheld when Ulbricht’s case went to court and the government kept it under seal to protect its agents.

Ulbricht and his family have many supporters saying that the two consecutive life terms without parole was too harsh of a punishment.  They also claim that Ulbricht’s Fourth Amendment rights were breached.

The US government, however, thinks otherwise.  They want to make an example of Ross Ulbricht and send a message to cyber criminals that they cannot hide behind the Dark Web’s invisibility cloak.  The Dark Web might be a mask criminals wear, but a light can unmask them.


Whitney Grace, February 17, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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