Saturday, December 10

Drugs for Bitcoin with Ross Ulbricht Does freedom have a price?

When we talk about Bitcoin, we often associate it with freedom. Yes, financial freedom, freedom as individuals, freedom to manage our money without intermediaries or barriers. It is synonymous with decentralization, its use is a guarantee of anonymity. However, talking about it also refers to illicit activities, activities that can cost the freedom that paradoxically is often referred to.

during the eighth edition At TNABC 2022, Lyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road, the first major digital darknet market for which he was arrested and sentenced to two life terms without parole, was on stage expressing through letters, audios of interviews with Ross and lived experiences, what it means to have a son in prison “unjustly”. He took advantage of his participation to share with the attendees, Ross’s message from a maximum security prison: «Today I want you to understand what it means to lose your freedom».

Ross Ulbricht: “Today I want you to understand what it means to lose your freedom”

From being locked away in an 8×10 metal “box” for days, weeks and sometimes months, often 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ross sends an important message with his mother. He wants people to really understand how important freedom is and what it means to lose it.

“I was given two life sentences without parole plus 40 years… I am a first time non-violent offender. But if nothing changes I will spend the next few decades in this cage and then sometime in this century I will grow old and die.». It reads in one of the letters shown on the projector that supported the stage. Meanwhile, Lyn, with a sad look at times, could not hide the feelings that, at times, seemed to invade her being.

Lyn assures that Ross’s intentions were good, despite the fact that many condemned Silk Road, he went on to say that his son was only trying to help humanity move towards a freer and more equitable world with Bitcoin.

Many believe that Ross is innocent, especially his mother Lyn, and how can you blame her? If her son was never a problem, he was a programmer and his mother thought he would end up working in a bank. He says that he never brought illegal things into the house. However, she admitted to feeling upset with her son, but now she understands that Ross never hurt anyone. He stated that he did not force anyone to do anything.

«My son is misunderstood because he is a libertarian, he never harmed anyone and he never forced anyone to consume anything. He just created a free market, where anyone could buy whatever they wanted free of violence.».

Lyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross Ulbricht in TNABC 2022
Lyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross Ulbricht in TNABC 2022

Silk Road

Lyn said that in order to justify “torturing Ross for the rest of his life,” Judge Forrest and prosecutors had to paint him as a dangerous villain that people needed to be protected from. After all, Ross had to be locked up for the rest of his life. It’s that dangerous according to them, and the media was very happy to cooperate according to Lyn’s thoughts.

She is convinced that this is a lie designed to turn humanity against him, to turn off people’s hearts and feelings. He reiterated that they falsely accused Ross of planning murders. Based on anonymous reports, but they never charged in a trial where they had to prove it and where Ross might have a chance to defend himself.

He highlighted that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the prison system serving excruciatingly long sentences and, according to the US Department of Justice, more than 79% of people serving life sentences are non-violent drug addicts.

Ross threatened with death in prison

Another detail that he specified was that Ross was in a maximum security prison where murderers, gang members and very dangerous people are sent.

The inmates assigned him the task of participating in a beating against another inmate. However, Ross refused to do so, so he was threatened with death. Ross spent weeks in isolation for his safety, in a room that didn’t even have windows, while he was relocated to another prison.

Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, following his arrest in San Francisco, was convicted in 2015 by a New York federal jury on seven criminal counts. Including conspiracy to distribute narcotics and money laundering using Bitcoin.

After studying for several years at Pennsylvania State University, Ross tried to start various businesses related to his profession, but was unsuccessful. Shortly after, he decided to create a website on the Deep Web, where anyone could sell anything anonymously. Ross was sympathetic to the “Libertarian” idea, as mentioned by his mother, so he believed that anyone could do with their money what they wanted.

He fell for a “slip”

The FBI had been looking for him for several years, until agent Gary Alford discovered his email on an Internet forum. Many people who support the libertarian ideology demand that Ross be released from justice. Since in theory, “he did not commit any crime.”

In contrast, the hearing was attended by the father of a man who died after a dose of heroin he bought through “Silk Road” and who accused Ulbricht of facilitating the drug to vulnerable people. He assured in court that if that site had not existed, his son would be alive.

We are emotional beings who reason. Just as emotions are a natural attribute in us, reason also comes from the factory, and with it, we can ask ourselves, Does freedom have a price? From jail, Ross remains rooted in his ideas of freedom through Bitcoin. Call for the market leading cryptocurrency to be made to shine in the darkest parts of the world. From his “cage” as he has called it, he celebrates the potential that Bitcoin has reached today in humanity.