Silk Road Prosecutors Rely on Slander As Trial Approaches

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What does a prosecutor do when their primary “evidence” was likely gathered through parallel construction of illegally hacked data, and support for the defendant is gaining whether he’s innocent or not? They slander him, of course.

By Eric Blair @ Activist Post

Since Silk Road prosecutors have no actual victims to parade in front of the public or the jury to bolster their case against its alleged mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, they have to invent victims by rehashing unsubstantiated claims of “murder-for-hire” plots.

Bloomberg reported today:

While the murder-for-hire plots aren’t part of the government’s indictment of Ulbricht, federal prosecutors in New York are seeking to use them as evidence against him at his trial set to begin Jan. 5. The alleged schemes support the government’s argument that Ulbricht conspired to protect the criminal enterprise, prosecutors said yesterday in a court filing.

Yes, you read that right, prosecutors are seeking to use uncharged allegations as evidence to prosecute other alleged crimes. Talk about weak and desperate.

These claims were originally used to slander Ulbricht when he was first apprehended, probably to stifle any potential support for him. Then they were cited by the prosecution to deny Ulbricht bail even though he has no previous criminal record. Next, the charges were mysteriously missing from formal charges. Now, the prosecution wants the public to focus only on them right before the trial begins.

Here is the incriminating evidence the prosecution provided for these claims:

  • When referring to an employee, Ulbricht allegedly wrote, “At what point do we terminate him?”
  • When referring to a vendor who was working with the FBI in blackmailing Silk Road for $500,000, he allegedly wrote, “In my eyes, Friendly Chemist is a liability and I wouldn’t mind if he was executed.”
Seriously? This is the best evidence of planning a murder plot that they’ve got? No wonder why they didn’t make the cut as formal charges. They shouldn’t even make the cut as talking points on Bloomberg, let alone as evidence to support “conspiracy” charges.Lyn Ulbricht, mother of the defendant, gave this response to Activist Post:

The New York prosecution has never indicted Ross for murder-for-hire, and no one was ever murdered. Yet they used this allegation to deprive Ross of bail and smear his name. New York also failed to include in its case the one Maryland charge, which is over a year old, unproven and possibly vulnerable to legal challenges. Ross’ lawyer believes that the absence of the Maryland charge in the New York case demonstrates that it has no merit.

The government does refer to planned murder under the Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy charge. This is as an uncharged crime, which conveniently requires no proof but goes a long way to poison a trial and sway a jury (and the public). No evidence is required.

Now, three weeks before trial, the prosecution takes to the media once again, resurrecting these unproven allegations. Bloomberg News has cooperated, treating this as news, writing that Ross Ulbricht “attempted to arrange” and “solicited” murders as if it’s proven fact, no “allegedly” in sight. This is journalism?

My question is, if they are so sure of these allegations, why not indict Ross for them in the upcoming trial? Or is this simply a tactic to convict him in the court of public opinion where you don’t need proof? Accusations are easy, especially when the press applies no skepticism to government statements. Proof is another matter. That’s what trials are for.

Even without these insinuations as formal charges, Ulbricht faces more than 30 years in prison if he’s found guilty of the victimless crime of operating a website that allowed people to trade freely and anonymously.

In fact, many have pointed out that Silk Road potentially saved countless people from becoming victims of violence and other offenses in the acquisition of prohibited substances. See here,here, here, and here.

Additionally, the State’s official charges against Ulbricht may be much more difficult to prosecute than is being portrayed by the establishment media. The three major charges of drug conspiracy, computer hacking, and money laundering are all problematic due to the cutting-edge technology involved.

Put simply, the deeds of the Silk Road’s website administrator, Dread Pirate Roberts, weren’t quite the same as Al Capone’s or the Cosa Nostra’s, but the State’s attorney is prosecuting the case as if they were.

Despite the State’s best efforts to slander Ulbricht, support continues to grow for his defense. This support is coming from those who oppose the war on drugs, internet freedom advocates, bitcoin users, and libertarians.

To quote the defense’s largest benefactor, bitcoin entrepreneur Roger Ver, “If guilty, he’s a hero. If innocent, he needs help.”

Ver explained this statement in more detail to the CoinTelegraph:

I think that each individual owns their own body, and has the absolute right to put whatever they want into it.

The police, judges, and jail guards who lock people in cages for ingesting substances without the permission of strangers, are the ones committing evil and need to stop.

If Ross Ulbricht is DPR and helped facilitate these voluntary interactions, he is a hero for helping provide the technology that allowed peaceful people to ignore the violent threats from strangers calling themselves politicians and law enforcement.

If Ross is falsely accused, and was not DPR, then he deserves the best defense money can buy. Either way, he deserves the support of anyone who is opposed to the war on drugs.

Amen to that.

In the absence of these baseless murder-for-hire claims, Ulbricht is at worst a harmless technologist who’s facing life in prison due to a very unpopular war on drugs.

And his case could also have huge implications for data collection and Internet freedom, as Ross’s mother recently explained to Reason TV:

Clearly, the prosecution is going to tell lies and play dirty. That is why it’s so important for activists to get involved and support Ross Ulbricht’s defense here.

This article originally appeared at Activist Post