As TFTP reported in 2018, the Libertarian Party called on President Donald Trump to pardon Ross Ulbricht, the entrepreneur and computer programmer who is currently serving a double life sentence with no possibility of parole for operating the Silk Road online marketplace, which was notorious for its online drug trade. Fast forward to 2020 and the president is allegedly considering it.
According to The Daily Beast, outgoing United States President Donald Trump is considering granting clemency to Ross Ulbricht — the founder and operator of the pioneering darknet market, Silk Road.
“I’ve had documents forwarded to my contacts in the White House as early as February,” activist Weldon Angelos, a former music producer and ex-federal inmate, said in a brief interview on Tuesday evening. “In the beginning of the year, [Ulbricht’s] family had reached out to us for our support, and my organization and I have endorsed his full commutation, and I am hopeful that President Trump will commute his sentence in its entirety. This case has perhaps more support than I’ve seen in any case of this kind.”
Two sources claim that Trump has privately expressed sympathy for Ulbricht and has considered his name for the next round of pardons.
Speaking to the publication, Ulbricht’s mother Lyn expressed admiration for Trump’s criminal justice reform policies, adding:
“We’re praying and remain hopeful that he will show mercy on Ross, as he has others, and commute his sentence to time served and give my son a second chance at life.”
In the video below, Lyn, Ross’s mother, speaks about his condition in prison:
Before Bitcoin became the newest tech and investment craze, it was seen as the currency of the black market, which was used to buy and sell drugs on the infamous “dark web.” In fact, Ulbricht was one of the early adopters of Bitcoin and he created one of the first websites that popularized the cryptocurrency, called The Silk Road.
The Silk Road was an anonymous online marketplace that became a target for politicians and law enforcement because of the large volume of drugs that were being sold through the site. On the Silk Road, drug users and vendors were able to trade anonymously using Bitcoin, making it one of the first major commerce platforms to adopt the cryptocurrency.
This constant reinvention of the Silk Road brand and the myriad of spin-off marketplaces is reminiscent of the battle that took place between online file sharing websites and the global record and film industries. Whenever the government took down a file-sharing site, ten more would spring up in its place, making it very difficult for authorities to keep up with the overgrowing connectivity that the internet provides.
Even though Ulbricht did nothing but create a website—just like the famous billionaires Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos—he was treated like El Chapo in court because his invention worked against the system, instead of for it.
One important point that was heavily overlooked by the media during the Ulbricht trial was the fact that the Silk Road actually made the world a safer place by undermining prohibition. Even though drugs are illegal, large numbers of people still use them on a regular basis and these people are often put in dangerous situations because of these prohibitions.
The Silk Road allowed people to purchase drugs from the comfort of their living room to avoid the risk of getting mugged in a dark alleyway. It also allowed them to read reviews of the products that their potential dealer was selling, saving them from tainted drugs and dirty batches that could put their lives at risk.
Ulbricht should have gotten the Nobel Prize for his visionary application of a new and revolutionary technology, but instead, he was arrested in October 2013 and has been sitting in federal prison ever since, awaiting a break in his case, or the end of the drug war.
It is unclear if these rumors of a pardon will materialize into Ross’s freedom. As Trump has shown us over the years, he talks a big game and rarely follows through with it.