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 2021 and despite rumors of lame duck Trump pardoning Ross, it never happened. He opted for pardoning Lil Wayne and several war criminals — who slaughtered children — instead.
This week, one of the world’s richest people weighed in on the issue and agrees that Ross Ulbricht serving double life sentences without the possibility of parole is “a bit high.”
Elon Musk was asked a question by a Twitter user about freeing Ross, and Musk weighed in.
He definitely has issues, but the sentencing seems a bit high
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 10, 2021
Musk’s recent endorsement of Bitcoin through Tesla is significant as during its time online, Silk Road generated commissions to the extent of almost 600,000 bitcoins before the state swooped in and shut it down. According to today’s prices, that is an estimated $28.5 billion.
Musk’s tweet, stating that he “definitely has issues,” shows that he may be ignorant of Ross’s case. Those who don’t follow his case closely often claim that he was convicted for attempting to pay for the murder and torture of people who’d stolen from or threatened him. That is not true at all.
He was never convicted of hiring a hitman to murder anyone. Bogus charges were brought, but they were dropped. Despite the murder allegations being dropped because there was no evidence to support them, however, they still served to muddy the waters of his case, and helped prosecutors obtain the extremely cruel and unusual double life sentence for creating a website.
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.
In the video below, Lyn, Ross’s mother, speaks about his condition in prison. It is high time that his suffering end and we #FreeRoss.