A Decade Behind Bars Ignites Controversy
In a recent post on the social platform X, Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the infamous darknet marketplace Silk Road, revealed that he has now spent an entire decade in prison.
Ulbricht, currently serving a double life sentence, has been controversial since his arrest in 2013.
Debate Erupts Over Ulbricht’s Punishment
On Oct. 2, Ulbricht took to social platform X to share that he has now endured ten years of imprisonment, expressing his fear that he would spend his remaining days trapped within “concrete walls and locked doors.”
One year for each finger on both hands.
Today ends a full decade in prison.
I sometimes fear I’ll spend the rest of my life behind concrete walls and locked doors. But I have no one else to blame. It’s my poor choices that led me here.
All I can do now is pray for mercy.
— Ross Ulbricht (@RealRossU) October 1, 2023
Supporters on X rallied around Ulbricht, arguing that his punishment didn’t align with the crime he committed. One user asserted, “The punishment should match the crime, and the one you were given does not even come close to that.” Another pointed out that individuals guilty of more serious offenses have had opportunities for redemption.
Ulbricht’s case has gained significant attention. Over 250 organizations advocate for his release, with half a million people signing a virtual petition. He has also gained backing from the crypto and Bitcoin communities, with some referring to him as a “Bitcoin political prisoner.”
Ross Ulbricht is a Bitcoin political prisoner.
He has been in prison since 2013.
Some would prefer we forget him, but Bitcoiners never will.
Ross was sentenced by the federal government to 2 life sentences + 40 years with no parole.
As a first-time offender and convicted… pic.twitter.com/usPlbN79j1
— Phree ☢️ (@BitPhree) September 30, 2023
However, not everyone agrees with this sentiment. Some users claim that Ulbricht’s prosecution involved allegations of hiring hitmen to commit murder, although he was not formally charged with these crimes. Furthermore, other users have highlighted the negative aspects of the Silk Road, such as its involvement in sex trafficking and illegal drug trade, arguing that it facilitated these illegal activities.
Silk road sold drugs, human trafficking and other things. Let’s not pretend like it wasn’t used by terrible people to do this stuff. That being said I’m sure that’s not how he intended it to be used
— shoooooooo (@shoooiiiii) October 2, 2023
The controversy surrounding Ulbricht’s case is intensified by comparisons to sentences given to others linked to the Silk Road. Advocates for Ulbricht’s freedom highlight that the average sentence for those involved is about six years. The top drug seller received only seven years in prison before being released. Moreover, the creators of Silk Road 2.0 served minimal or no time in jail and are now free.
The Darknet Market That Pioneered Illegal Trade with Bitcoin
Silk Road began operations in 2011 as a pioneering darknet market where users could buy and sell illegal goods and services using Bitcoin as the primary currency. Ulbricht, operating under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” managed the platform from his laptop. It quickly gained attention as the first modern darknet market.
The U.S. FBI seized Ulbricht’s laptop on October 1, 2013, effectively ending his reign over the Silk Road. Subsequently, in 2015, he was convicted in a U.S. federal court on multiple charges related to the marketplace’s operations and sentenced to two life terms plus forty years, with no possibility of parole.
Court documents revealed that Silk Road facilitated the sale of 9,519,664 Bitcoin between February 2011 and July 2013, collecting commissions totaling 600,000 Bitcoin, roughly equivalent to $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commissions at the time of publication.
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