Its been a bit over five years now since Ross Ulbricht was put behind bars. Ross was the founder of Silk Road, a dark web marketplace that listed all sorts of products and services, both legal and illegal. In as much as Silk Road facilitated some illegal activity, it was one of the pioneers of Bitcoin usage. Most users preferred being paid in Bitcoin as opposed to the dollar as it was more private and harder to trace.
Five years on, Ross has tried severally to plead his case, but the effort has been in vain. This time, he wrote a letter -yes, a handwritten letter, a rare sight in this internet age – to Roger Ver. Ver has been one of the most vocal supporters of Ross, calling for his release time and again.
In the letter, he reiterated his determination to fight the charges leveled against him. However, Ross acknowledged that the set legal route might not bear fruit for him. He thus urges for Ver and other crypto and dark web aficionados to upload videos voicing their support for him, in effect pushing the government’s hand to free him.
Five years ago, FBI agents swooped into a public library in San Francisco, arresting Ross. He was accused of forming and running what the bureau termed as “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today.” Money laundering, trafficking of narcotics and computer hacking were some of the charges he faced. And for these, he was sentenced to double life imprisonment and then a further 40 years. After attempts to appeal his sentence, the federal judge in charge denied him.
He begins the letter:
Today I’m writing on a different topic, seeking for your help. Despite your generous assistance throughout my legal battles, especially at first when very few were coming to my aid. I have lost time and time again in court. We give it a great effort, but there’s little chance of winning no matter how much money and talent goes into it.
The letter then pointed out that a presidential pardon is the only viable option left, and Ross asked for the backing of Ver and others to get it.
Now my best hope is convincing the president to commute my sentence, the letter read.
The Community Backs Ross
Ross has been a unifying factor in crypto, despite not having been a crypto proponent primarily. Everyone, from the Bitcoin maximalist to the most conservative, have expressed their desire that Ross is freed.
The rallying call has been led by Ross’ mother, 64-year-old Lyn Ulbricht. Just a fortnight ago, the indefatigable Lyn stated during an interview:
I’m very hopeful because President Trump wants to pardon people. It was a frankly reckless idea but [Ross] did it because he was on fire for freedom as a young guy in his mid-20s who believed in privacy and free markets. Ross never intended harm.
For those interested in signing the petition, or uploading a video pledging your support, you can get through to the team at freeross.org. The site contains a petition which has so far raked in 114, 400 petitioners.