Since his incarceration, support for Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht has grown tenfold due to the efforts of his family, who work to defend what they believe is a wrongly imprisoned man.
Organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, Downsize DC Foundation, National Lawyers Guild, Reason Foundation and the National Lawyers Guild stand behind Ulbricht’s family in supporting their case.
After a failed appeal earlier this year, a petition to have Ulbricht pardoned by U.S. President Donald Trump was launched on Change.org, and in a matter of months, the number of signatures grew exponentially.
On Thursday, the petition finally came to pass the 100,000 signature mark, despite the fact that 50,000 was the initial target as support for Ulbricht grows.
Silk Road Case and Subsequent Conviction
Ulbricht was perhaps first known to the world as “Dread Pirate Roberts” when he ran the underground marketplace on the dark web known as Silk Road. The website allowed transactions of all kinds, even those that were illegal in nature, to happen under the mask of anonymity provided by the network encryption software Tor.
Silk Road operated for just under two years, during which Ulbricht amassed an estimated $28.5 million through transaction and service fees for the users of his platform, who paid for goods such as guns and drugs in Bitcoin.
His subsequent arrest in October of 2013 led to one of the most controversial cases of the century. Ulbricht faced charges of procuring murder, conspiring to sell narcotics, money laundering and computer hacking. Though the murder charge was ultimately dropped from his indictment, the evidence was still presented in court, and Judge Katherine Forrest pulled all the stops to ensure Ulbricht got the maximum sentence possible—two terms of life imprisonment without the possibility parole.
The Free Ross Movement
Ulbricht’s story is one that has been reiterated many times over, sometimes with emphasis laid upon the unquestionable injustice that followed his arrest, and other times with the hope that he will soon see the light of day.
At the moment, Ulbricht is serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Florence High, where he has spent the last few years of his life trying to find a way out. Unlike many other convicted criminals serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, Ulbricht wasn’t involved in a violent crime, nor was he a threat to national security.
However, his appeals for a retrial have been turned down by the U.S. Court of Appeals even with the availability of damning evidence against the investigators that oversaw his case.
Despite outrage from all corners of the internet, the 34-year-old is left with no choice but to hope for a presidential pardon, which, according to recent developments, just might be within reach.
With the aid of his family, Ulbricht is now able to maintain a live Twitter account which became active earlier this year. He keeps his many followers updated via his mother and his friends, courtesy of the customary phone calls he’s allowed to make from prison.
Support for Ulbricht has been in endless supply, with big names like John McAfee writing on his blog about the imperative for privacy and how Ulbricht’s was wrongfully treated during the investigations. Among the parties responsible for this milestone is The Libertarian Party, which has been a vocal supporter of the Free Ross campaign since the start.