Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange company, has disabled the “Free Ross” campaign wallet that was meant to help raise funds for Ross Ulbricht, who was the founder and admin of the Silk Road.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road is BACK ONLINE NOW as Silk Road 3.1 and open for business. The team did a change and upgrade for a reason we can only assume for security.
This freeze took place right after the campaign had received 16.5 Bitcoins in donations, a value equivalent to $40,200.
The Ulbricht family is the official manager of the Free Ross campaign.
It was launched to raise funds for Ross Ulbricht’s appeal and legal defense.
After the news of the freeze, members from the Free Ross campaign and others who followed the case closely were quick to offer assistance in order to resolve the situation.
Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2015 for his alleged involvement with the Silk Road, an online market for drug transactions and other illegal business dealings.
The court revealed that he operated the darknet market under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
The site’s illegal products and services were the main reason for Ulbricht’s harsh sentence, due to the massive scale facilitated in the drug trade.
In May 2017, an appellate court denied an application from his legal team.
Ulbricht’s campaign team confirmed the Coinbase freeze.
They stated that they had moved the Bitcoins to Coinbase from blockchain, to enable them to convert to USD and pay for Ross’ defense. However, upon trying to validate their account, it was disabled without any explanation.
All they were told is that Coinbase would get back to them in 72 hours.
Coinbase is one of the most standardized Bitcoin exchange services in the United States.
This company is highly regulated. It’s registered and certified as a Money Service Business with FinCEN.
Hence, it is expected to comply with many financial services and consumer protection laws.
This company has been known to freeze accounts whenever any suspicious activity is noticed.
It also freezes the accounts of those who engage in online gambling. Coinbase has a strict policy where it requires details about how clients intend to use their Bitcoins.
The Silk Road creator’s campaign team has been in operation since the first time he was arrested in October 2013 over the same issue.
The Free Ross campaign has not engaged in any illicit activities. All the campaign does is just present Ulbricht’s side of the story.
In addition, the team tries to raise funds to pay for legal defense and appeals.
The campaign had not been storing all its Bitcoins on Coinbase, but was using the account to convert donations to USD.
Still, the Ross Ulbricht-related plot thickens. Just recently, Coinbase announced that a former federal prosecutor named Kathryn Haun was joining its board of directors.
Haun was a digital currency coordinator at the United States Department of Justice, where her primary focus was on national security, cybercrime, financial fraud and gang activity.
She mainly led investigations into the corrupt federal agents that had been accused of theft and corruption during the Silk Road case.
Both suspects were successfully prosecuted and are now serving a jail term.
The news of Haun joining Coinbase’s board of directors did not sit well with some members of the Bitcoin community.
The freezing of the Silk Road creator’s campaign wallet was a little suspicious, especially since it happened soon after her appointment to the board.
However, it turns out Haun was not the prosecutor that convicted the Silk Road founder.
Coinbase has since unblocked Ross Ulbricht’s legal defense wallet after a flurry of complaints.
The Free Ross twitter account posted that the freeze was an auto security response that occurred after a possible link to previous compromised account.
This incident only highlighted Coinbase’s already beleaguered internal and external issues.
The Silk Road creator’s supporters said the statement was only a cover up of Coinbase’s other problems with IRS.
Thanks to the unfreezing of the wallet, Ulbricht’s campaign team can continue funding their campaign to help him receive some semblance of justice.