Some are labeling it the trial for Internet freedom, others - freedom to retain some privacy - but it will center around one man. The alleged operator of Silk Road known by his pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) was identified by Law Enforcement to be Ross Ulbricht and tomorrow, he will stand trial on charges ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering to running a criminal enterprise.
The trial will begin at 9am ET January 13, 2015 and is expected to last about a month. It will take place Downtown Manhattan at 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007.
Volunteers have set up assistance for those looking to come out and support Ross for this trial. The donation address listed here directly funds supporters that have come out in this cold New York City weather to stand up for what they believe is freedom of speech, expression and the fight again Internet censorship that will attempt to make an example out of one man.
The donations are being used to provide food for the volunteers and help with other related expenses like travel assistance to those willing to be there in support.
The organizers in charge of this initiative are:
Julia has recently released a video from the steps of the courthouse a few days ago and quickly saw it up-voted to the top of the Bitcoin sub-Reddit page.
We caught up with Julia Tourianski on the eve of this major event for some additional question and her thoughts on the situation.
Cointelegraph: What is your view on the Main Stream Media’s coverage and interest in this trial?
Julia Tourianski: Apart from Wired magazine’s coverage and small libertarian/anarchistic outlets, it has been slanderous. In fact, Lyn [Ulbricht] has been quoted to say that she stopped all interviews out of fear of being taken out of context. There’s a focus on click bait instead of integrity, and to my disappointment, this attitude includes some prominent, donation based individuals, whose job it is to cover things that affect our legal and basic freedoms. They self proclaim to battle the narrative set by the larger media entities and yet I see them doing nothing or even sinking to their level.
CT: The odds are clearly stacked against Ross in this trial but if he is victorious, do you think the US enforcers will accept the verdict or see it as a way that they just need to try harder and with more people?
JT: The State is not a well-oiled machine. It’s ultimately an accumulation of consensus. There are certain leaders and agendas at play, but they are nothing without either the support of the populace, or the apathy of the populace. So having said that, the State is testing the waters with this trial, and if we don’t generate a storm, we willingly concede with our silence. Voting is not about a ballot, voting is a real thing; we do it with our voices, actions, and money. So if no one cares and no one shows up, we are voting in favor of the functions already in place to further reduce our freedoms.
CT: Do you feel that the Bitcoin community is showing enough support for Ross considering the contributions he has made to spread Bitcoin utility across the world?
JT: Roger Ver has been a prominent supporter of this case and Ulbrich’s family, and has helped us in paying for volunteer expenses. /r/bitcoin voted up my video to its front pages enabling an amazing discussion regarding the trial. I’ve had one decent anonymous donation, and a few from good friends. That sums up the support from the “Bitcoin community.” Judge for yourself.
CT: Charlie Shrem was criticized for going with a criminal defense lawyer to understandably minimize his sentence vs. a financially oriented one in an attempt to challenge the legality of the laws that took him down. Do you know if Ross’s defense will attempt to challenge drug laws or money laundering laws in any way?
JT: We have no information as to the defense’s approach. They are restricted in speaking of Ross’s freedom centered ideals, so it will be difficult for them to bring up the immorality of the drug war, although this is relevant. I’ll keep you posted and we will know more once the trial starts.
CT: The view that most people in the Bitcoin community have is that their freedom-oriented mentality does not see that Ross committed any moral crimes. Do you think no matter the verdict this message would resonate with more Americans when it’s over?
JP: This is where I flounder. Sometimes it looks like libertarian ethics (and I use this as an umbrella term) are becoming viral. Other times the entire community is a petri dish. What I do know is that people begin to understand (insert anything here) when it's taken away. So the less we are allowed to do, the more people will begin to realize that perhaps the issues represented by this trial are important. Retrospect is a bitch, no?
CT: Do you have anything else to add?
JT: When you are being prosecuted for something you wrote online, when your company is being held liable because of something your customer did with a product you sold or with the currency you exchanged, when you are in court for money laundering because you bought and sold bitcoin, don’t complain, because you saw this coming and you didn't bother to speak up.