In this video, I sat down to talk with Lyn Ulbricht about the Ross Ulbricht trial. There also seem to be many questions about the ethics and legality of the FBI actions. To me, this case is just one example illustrating how the drug war is an epic failure that affects millions around the world. We will be sure to check back in with Lyn, but in the meantime, I hope that you will consider donating to the cause and also spreading the word about the case. The more awareness, the better, so please share!
Tatiana Moroz: What are the charges against Ross at this time?
Lyn: The latest indictment accuses Ross of Narcotics trafficking. However, in the same sentence, the government says he also aided and abetted the distribution. So according to them, he did it alone and helped others commit the same crime. Plus they say he conspired with others to do it. And he used the internet to do it. And he’s a kingpin — even if he only aided someone else. (Obviously, these charges contradict each other). The prosecution has converted a single alleged course of conduct (narcotics trafficking) into a set of interchangeable charges, giving the impression of multiple crimes, each with its own mandatory minimum sentence. They also charge him with conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent IDs and launder money.
Web hosts should take note. If a user breaks the law on your site and you are held criminally liable, the federal government says you could be aiding/abetting. They can then prosecute you as if you had actually committed the crime.
When is the next court date?
The case is scheduled to be tried beginning January 5, 2015 in Judge Katherine Forrest’s courtroom, #15A, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse, 500 Pearl St., New York, NY.
What is the impact of this case on the internet?
This case opens new legal territory. It will set precedent for the 21st century and pave the way for new laws and interpretations that could impact the future and freedom of the Internet. Bad law could be ushered in that we will be forced to live with.
If Ross 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 and open the door to criminal liability for web hosts.
Why should people be taking action?
As attorney Scott Greenfield said in regard to this case: This is the birth of law as applied to our digital future. Watch it as a spectator at your peril. This case represents the first challenge to the government’s attempt to expand the money laundering statute to include digital currency.
In addition, 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 to the US Constitution. In addition, his Fourth Amendment rights have been violated with illegal warrants and searches and seizures lacking any warrant. If the government can misapply the law against Ross, it can do it to any of us.
In its documents, the government equates the desire for privacy (use of Tor for example) with criminal intent.
How is Ross doing in prison?
Ross remains positive and committed. He works most of every day reviewing discovery evidence for his defense, now that he finally has access to all of it. Otherwise, he continues to be a positive influence in the prison.
What is his day to day life?
Most of every day is spent reviewing discovery.
What can people do to help right now?
Please go to www.FreeRoss.org to donate to the defense fund and badly needed forensic expenses.