Ross Ulbricht was allegedly the man behind the notorious dark web Marketplace Silk Road. CCN reported when his trial begun back in 2015, and when it led to a sentence of life in prison as he was convicted of owning the “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DRP) account in the marketplace.
According to Motherboard, Ross’ attorneys claim to have discovered new evidence that someone used the Dread Pirate Roberts account six weeks after he was arrested. At the time, Ross was in federal custody, so he couldn’t have been him.
As such, the logical conclusion is that someone else had access to the Dread Pirate Roberts account. Either because they had access to the investigation, because someone with a law enforcement background did it, or because there was another DPR.
This last one has been a possibility all along, as there have been other suspects. CCN also reported back in 2015 that an undercover agent involved in the investigation believed Mark Karpeles of Mt.Gox was the mastermind behind Silk Road. In trial, it was even said ross was framed by “the real DPR”.
Joshua Dratel, Ross Ulbricht’s defense attorney, has recently filed a letter with the US attorney’s office in Maryland, claiming his team found evidence of another corrupt law enforcement officer. This time, it seems an agent “surgically” deleted evidence in the case.
The letter, which hasn’t yet been released publicly, according to Motherboard also notes someone logged into the Dread Pirate Roberts account after the alleged owner was in custody. Ulbricht was arrested on October 2, 213 and Silk Road was taken down that same day. The forums, however, stayed up until November 22. The defense team says someone logged into the account on the 18th.
The information was uncovered by forensic analysts. They acquired it by studying the backups of the Silk Road forums used as evidence by the government. According to Ulbricht’s attorneys Dratel and Lindsay Lewis, the government’s tempering calls into question the evidence used in the trial that led to the life in prison sentence.
This wasn’t brought up before, as according to the defense the focus was put on the evidence of tampering. Plus, there were over six terabytes of information to go through, so the team wasn’t able to review it all in time for trial.
Lyn Ulbricht, Ross Ulbricht’s mother, said this new evidence calls into question the evidence used to lock up Ross. After questioning the access to the DPR account on the Silk Road, she said:
It's the nature of digital evidence that it's easily changed, planted or deleted without a trace. That my son—or anyone—would get a life sentence without parole based on vulnerable digital evidence, especially when it's been corrupted, is a travesty of justice.
She has in the past sounded the alarm against government abuse in the digital age. It has never been clarified how the FBI got to Ross Ulbricht in the first place. It has never been truly clarified how they discovered Silk Road’s servers.
Furthermore, two corrupt former cops working on the Silk Road case were sentenced for multiple charges. Former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges stole over $800.000 worth of the cryptocurrency, Former U.S. federal agent Carl Force IV plead guilty to charges including theft, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
All of this led to Ross Ulbricht’s lawyers claiming the trial was unfair, seeking a new one. Meanwhile, other dark web markets rose to prominence, while several Silk Road copycats attempted to emerge.
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