A day after America’s Independence Day, Roger Ver posted the following on Twitter: “I’ll give $10 to @Free_Ross for each RT. If guilty, he’s a hero. If innocent, he needs help.”
At the time of writing, there are 16,678 retweets, meaning $US166,780 (or about 262 BTC) has been pledged to the Free Ross Ulbricht campaign if you trust Ver to follow through (and there is no reason to think Bitcoin Jesus wouldn’t follow through).
The Ross Ulbricht Story
For readers who arrived at this article only because they heard money was flying around wildly on Twitter, here is the context:
The FBI arrested Ulbricht in October of 2013 in San Francisco and charged him with multiple counts of computer hacking, money laundering and narcotics trafficking. He was indicted in New York in February on four counts: Computer hacking, money laundering, narcotics trafficking and engaging in a criminal enterprise. Ulbricht pled not guilty.
The FBI accuses Ulbrict of being the pseudonymous Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of the Silk Road online black market, a claim Ulbricht has denied.
FreeRoss.org contends the case against Ulbricht is flawed:
“The actual allegations are for hosting a website, not for breaking these laws. He is not alleged to have possessed or sold drugs; organized people in an illegal enterprise; hacked into a computer; or laundered legal tender.
“Although initially charged with planning six murders, Ross was not indicted in New York for any. In November, prosecutor Serrin Turner used the murder-for-hire allegations to argue against bail being granted, yet he did not indict Ulbricht for these allegations in February. In addition, no victim is named in the prosecution’s complaint or the New York indictment, and the FBI affidavit states that there is no record of any actual homicide. There is still an indictment in Maryland alleging one murder-for-hire crime. We are convinced it is false and predict that this remaining accusation of planned violence will go the way of the other five.
“This case opens new legal territory, and the government is poised to set Internet and financial law with it. Bad law could be ushered in, and we will be forced to live with it.
- If Ulbricht is convicted, it opens the door for the censure and erosion of a free Internet. Under present law, website hosts are not held responsible in civil cases for illegal actions on their sites. This case could set precedent for criminal liability for web hosts.
- A US citizen’s constitutional rights are being violated with vague allegations that do not cite specific crimes, a violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. If the government can misapply the law against Ulbricht, it can do it to any of us.
- In its documents, the government equates the desire for privacy with criminal intent.”
The Ulbricht family has had an ongoing campaign to raise funds for his legal defense. The counter on the FreeRoss.org site shows nearly $90,000 has been raised toward the $US100,000 goal.
The Bitcoin address for donations shows a total of 41.82 BTC having been received, which at current prices is worth about $US26,000.
Roger himself contacted us to personally explain why he thinks that Ross is a hero:
"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 the 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."