Judge To Rule On Extradition Request For Accused Silk Road Admin

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Gary DavisThe High Court led by Mr. Justice Paul McDermott, will make a ruling in February 2016 on the US extradition request for an Irishman (Gary Davis, 27, of Kilpedder Co Wicklow) who is claimed to have been the administrator of an online black market dubbed the Silk Road. Davis is accused by the US authorities of committing online crimes including computer hacking, money laundering and distribution of drugs. Silk Road, created by Ross William Ulbricht and launched in 2011 provided anonymity to its users, where various trades were conducted using an online currency known as Bitcoin. The accused is said to have been an administrator of this bazaar where he used the pseudonym “Libertas” as his admin name. If the Co Wicklow man is convicted, he will receive a life sentence.


The Background of Mr. Davis’s Case

This extradition matter has been going on since January 2014. Since then, the Irish government and the US have been exchanging legal documents and submissions to facilitate the proceedings in this case. Mr. Davis was first arrested on foot of a warrant issued by the High Court in 2014 but he is now on bail until the New Year’s ruling. This case was briefly stated on April 2015 before High Court Judge Paul McDermott, he fixed the final date of July 14th for extradition appeal.

Earlier, Ronan Kennedy BL with Remy Farrell SC for the Attorney General argued that the court needs to make an order for the Mr. Davis’s surrender to the United States. They added that the charges against “Libertas” are quite clear and the High Court wasn’t precluded making an order for his extradition because it is clear that some of the offenses he’s facing may not have been committed in the US territory.

On the other side, counsel gave a brief description of the Silk Road saying that it was operated by American Ross William Ulbricht (“Dread Pirate Roberts” – DPR) until October 2013 when it was seized by FBI. Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco, and charged with running a website that perpetuated illegal businesses in the internet. Mr. Davis is alleged to be the administrator of the site between June 2013 and October 2013 and had complete knowledge of the items being traded in the online black market he was running. Counsel added that the drugs traded on the site included LSD, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines.

The evidence advanced in Davis’s case was mainly those of the drug purchases. It is also alleged that “Libertas” dealt directly with questions from the Silk Road users and organized various items to be purchased into different categories. The Silk Road also offered hacking software for sale, including products that allow buyers in the site to hack into other people’s social media accounts, mainly Facebook and Twitter accounts. Moreover, the software could hack into ATMS, it could steal passwords and it provided remote access to websites.

It’s alleged that the Silk Road facilitated money laundering in that it had a black market directory where buyers could create anonymous counterfeit bills and bank accounts. The US prosecutor’s case against “Libertas” was based on evidence gotten from computer servers, purchases by undercover agents and documents seized from Ulbricht.

The Verdict of Mr. Davis’s Extradition Request to be made On Early February

Mr Davis
Mr. Davis opposes his extradition on a number of grounds and claims he suffers from a rare form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome and depression. His lawyers claim that if extradited, the 27-year- old Irishman, would be detained in the US under inhuman conditions that are going to degrade his treatment. They also argue that the formal extradition request is flawed and lacks credibility not to mention the fact that the charges against him are vague. They add that Mr. Davis should have been charged with corresponding offenses made in Ireland while working in the Silk Road.

Lawyers of representing the US say that he should be surrendered to the US authorities. The extradition matter was before Justice McDermott on December 1st for the submission of additional documents including Professor Juan Mendez’s sworn statement, a UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Mr. Mendez expressed his view and concerns relating to the conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) a US facility in the New York City where the accused is likely to be held supposed he’s extradited. Mendez told the court that he was not granted access to MCC.

John O Kelly SC, for Mr. Davis, backed Mr. Mendez saying that the UN officer had expressed concerns about Mr. Davis’s mental condition if he were to be held in isolation at MCC. But Remy Farrell SC, for the Attorney General, stated that there was nothing showing that the accused will be held at a Special Housing Unit at the MCC. Counsel told the court that the MCC special unit is used to house drug cartel convicts and terror suspects. Nevertheless, assurances have been made that Mr. Davis’s health condition would be monitored if he is detained. O Kelly has argued earlier that there was a real risk of Co Wicklow man being exposed to some unconstitutional measures which would amount to a denial of justice.

The counsel having heard from both parties, Justice McDermott said that he hoped to make a final ruling early February, 2016. Counsel was able to make conclusions after paying attention to the submissions from both parties.