Sources close to the White House have indicated this week that President Donald Trump is considering clemency for Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder of the Silk Road online marketplace.
Multiple sources have told The Daily Beast that the White House counsel’s office has had documents related to Ulbricht’s case under review. Two of the three sources also indicated that Trump has privately expressed sympathy for Ulbricht when discussing his case.
There are also multiple members of Congress who expressed support for clemency, including Thomas Massie and Justin Amash.
Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mother, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday night that she is hoping her son can get a second chance at life.
“We’re very grateful for and admire all President Trump has done for criminal justice reform, especially passing the First Step Act, because that has freed thousands of desperate and deserving people, some of whom I know. We’re praying and remain hopeful that he will show mercy on Ross, as he has others, and commute his sentence to time served and give my son a second chance at life,” Lyn said.
Ulbricht is currently serving a double-life sentence for creating a website that allowed people to buy and sell whatever they wanted, including drugs. There is also a widespread misconception that Ulbricht is in prison for attempting to have a potential informant assassinated, but this is entirely untrue.
A murder for hire charge was in the initial indictment against Ulbricht, based on chat logs from the administrator account on the website, but evidence revealed during the trial showed that numerous people had access to the account, including two corrupt DEA agents who were later arrested for their handling of the case, which included stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The charges were ultimately thrown out.
In an interview with Bitcoin.com, Curtis Green, the man who was the alleged target of the hit, said that he was shocked to see the murder for hire accusation used in Ulbricht’s sentencing, especially since the charge was thrown out and the testimony came from Agent Carl Force, one of the DEA agents now in prison for his handling of the case.
“I was very shocked that they used the murder-for-hire against him for his sentencing, again. Life in prison for starting a website that sold drugs and other things, to me, is draconian and unfair. Especially when other vendors that sold many kilos of heroin and cocaine only received ten years or less,” Green said.
Before Bitcoin became the newest tech and investment craze, it was seen as the currency of the black market, which was used to buy and sell drugs on the infamous “dark web.” In fact, Ulbricht was one of the early adopters of Bitcoin and he created one of the first websites that popularized the cryptocurrency.
The Silk Road was an anonymous online marketplace that became a target for politicians and law enforcement because of the large volume of drugs that were being sold through the site. On the Silk Road, drug users and vendors were able to trade anonymously using Bitcoin, making it one of the first major commerce platforms to adopt the cryptocurrency.
Even though Ulbricht did nothing but create a website, just like the famous billionaires Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos—he was treated like El Chapo in court because his invention worked against the system, instead of for it.
One important point that was heavily overlooked by the media during the Ulbricht trial was the fact that the Silk Road actually made the world a safer place by undermining prohibition. Even though drugs are illegal, large numbers of people still use them on a regular basis and these people are often put in dangerous situations because of these prohibitions.
The Silk Road allowed people to purchase drugs from the comfort of their living room to avoid the risk of getting mugged in a dark alleyway. It also allowed them to read reviews of the products that their potential dealer was selling, saving them from tainted drugs and dirty batches that could put their lives at risk.
Ulbricht should have gotten the Nobel Prize for his visionary application of a new and revolutionary technology, but instead, he was arrested in October 2013 and has been sitting in federal prison ever since, awaiting a break in his case, or the end of the drug war.
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