In a display of support, on December 4 a worldwide audience tuned in to Free Ross-A-Thon. The eight hour online fundraiser set a $14,000 target to offset expenses tied to Ulbricht’s court appeal. The event surpassed all expectations by yielding $50,000 from contributors around the world. The largest donation, in the amount of $25,000, came from Bitcoin angel investor and spirited advocate Roger Ver.
After being convicted of seven non-violent charges, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without parole in May of 2015 for his alleged role in orchestrating the Silk Road website. He is currently appealing his conviction and sentence in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The idea that anyone could receive a life sentence for creating an ecommerce website, regardless of the products being sold, shocks the conscience,” Ver said to Bitcoin Magazine. “Any moral person should be opposed to this kind of draconian sentence.”
The fundraiser follows recent evidence gathered by Ulbricht’s legal team alleging proof of evidence tampering. A previously undiscovered copy of the Silk Road forum database clearly shows that someone with access to the site deleted significant portions of evidence, according to Ulbricht’s lawyers. This new revelation has added another twist to a case already saddled with unsubstantiated details and questionable conclusions.
The legal team also discovered proof that someone other than Ulbricht used the Dread Pirate Roberts account to log into the site nearly seven weeks after Ulbricht was taken into custody. This contradicts assertions by the government that Ulbricht was the sole user of the Dread Pirate Roberts account.
Says Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mother: “If this backup of the forum database had not been found; if logins made by DPR after Ross' arrest were not discovered, no one would be the wiser. This begs the question: how much more is there? We may never know, as digital evidence is easily changed, planted or deleted without a trace. That my son — or anyone — would receive a life sentence based on such vulnerable evidence, especially when there is proof of corruption and tampering, is a travesty of justice.”
In an earlier exclusive interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Lyn shared details of Ross’s imprisonment, including contents of a letter he’d written to her from prison.
“I was very grateful to be part of the Ross-A-Thon. From the time of his trial and sentencing, he has never left our minds. No justice is served by locking him up like this. The sentence alone, based on incompletely and strangely distorted information, was cruel to the point of absurdity. Meanwhile, the aims of the war on drugs have been in no way advanced by this.”
“Ross is an idealist, a man who wanted to create a truly free market. Human liberation was his aim. He might have been naive concerning the challenge he set up for government officials and entrenched drug lords. But his solution is the way of the future. In that sense, he is a great innovator. A society that locks up such people is not a just one.”
“I commend everyone who continues to work for Ross's freedom. Like others, I'm convinced we will see it in our time, and that history will regard him as a political prisoner who overcame a terrible fate to live a triumphant and beautiful life. It's sad that something like this should ever happen. But perhaps his life will be seen — as with so many political prisoners before — as a warning sign to all societies of the brutality of intolerance and ignorance.”