Ross Ulbricht has appealed his conviction and life sentence for running the online drug marketplace Silk Road.
Rukowski notes at the beginning of the YouTube video that Lyn Ulbricht gave him information that has not previously been released that he described as “insane.”
“It’s very important to find out what happened because it sets very dangerous precedent for the Internet,” Rukowski noted at the start of the interview.
Rukowski began by asking Ulbricht to discuss what happened with Reason magazine, which followed the case closely. After people expressed shock about the sentence on the magazine’s website, the government issued a grand jury subpoena to the magazine to provide private information about individuals who expressed shock about the sentence. “Reason was being forced to do that,” Ulbricht said. In addition, she said the government issued a gag order saying that the magazine could not discuss the matter.
Ulbricht also questioned the actions of New York Senator Charles Schumer, who called for the closing of Silk Road. After her son was arrested in California, “strangely, he was brought to New York to be tried, which is Chuck Schumer’s state,” Ulbricht said. The main prosecutor in the case was Chuck Schumer’s special counsel for decades, she noted, and the judge for the trial was recommended by Schumer.
Ulbricht said Schumer’s public comments before the trial were troubling.
This was a trampling on a very basic tenet of our law and our justice system which is the presumption of innocence. We are innocent until proven at trial guilty. And Chuck Schumer just decided to bypass trial and convict Ross in his state in which Ross has been tried publicly and saying he was guilty.
Rukowski then asked Ulbricht to expand on decisions the judge made during the trial that didn’t let Ross defend himself. Ulbricht said defense witnesses who wanted to challenge government witnesses about bitcoin and technology were prevented from speaking, “Cross examination was curtailed,” she said.
Ulbricht further noted that evidence about two corrupt government agents who stole money from Silk Road should have raised questions about the government’s evidence. These agents had access to accounts on the Silk Road website. “They had full access to site for almost a year,” she said. “How can you trust evidence taken from the server and from the site when these corrupt agents had access to the whole thing?”
Ulbricht said the case was run by emotion of the parents of people who allegedly died from drugs sold on the website. “I feel terrible for those parents of the people who died from those drugs. However, to have a courtroom run by emotion is not what is supposed to happen. It’s supposed to be facts and evidence.”
“We hired a forensic pathologist to go through each alleged death, and he concluded, and he’s very experienced, that there is no way to scientifically categorically say that those people died from drugs from Silk Road or that they even died of drugs or those particular drugs at all or even drugs at all.”
It was run by emotion.
Rukowski then brought up the manner in which the government got into of the Silk Road server, which he noted is a “big mystery.”
Experts cried foul about the way the FBI agent said he found the server. The FBI agent responded that he would answer these questions but could not since he didn’t save his work. “Experts are saying it doesn’t jive with the FBI’s own evidence,” Ulbricht said.
Rukowski said this set a dangerous precedent. If someone orders drugs on Facebook, Facebook is facilitating the sale.
The government used almost all digital evidence that can be faked, Ulbricht said. “It’s a very troubling precedent.”
Another troubling precedent is the Fourth Amendment issue. “They’re saying they can hack into a foreign server without a warrant,” Ulbricht said.
How they searched the laptop is another legal issue. The Fourth Amendment requires particularity.
A laptop is like a file cabinet on steroids. Ross has been made a poster boy for this failed drug war.
Rukowski asked Ulbricht about work the defense has done on the effect Silk Road had on the war on drugs. She said there is academic research indicating Silk Road actually saved lives and removed violence from the drug world. Since then, she said a global survey of 100,000 people came to conclusion Silk Road saved lives.
“There is lot of sensationalism around this case,” she said. The murder for hire charge against her son was never proven. “That’s important to know since I feel like it smeared Ross’s name.”
Ulbricht asked people to support her son’s appeal. People can go to a website to learn more at freeross.org. “We’re only one family and we’re not a wealthy family.” People can help at freeross.org. “It needs to be grass roots. It’s not just about my son. I see it as a bigger battle. We are careening into the digital age and they are making laws and precedents that are affecting all of us going forward.”
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