In a recent post on social media platform
Ulbricht, who is currently serving a double life sentence, has been controversial since his arrest in 2013.
Controversy erupted over Ulbricht’s punishment
On October 2, Ulbricht took to the social media platform
One year for each finger on both hands.
Today ends a full decade of imprisonment.
Sometimes I fear that I will spend the rest of my life behind concrete walls and closed doors. But I don’t have anyone else to blame. My bad choices are what led me here.
All I can do now is pray for mercy.
– Ross Ulbricht (@RealRossU) October 1, 2023
X’s supporters rallied around Ulbricht, arguing that his punishment did not match the crime he had committed. One user emphasized: “The punishment should match the crime, and the punishment you were given doesn’t even come close.” Another noted that individuals guilty of more serious crimes had opportunities for redemption.
The Ulbricht case received much attention. More than 250 organizations are calling for his release, and half a million people have signed a virtual petition. He has also received support from the cryptocurrency 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 may prefer us to forget it, but Bitcoin users never will.
The federal government sentenced Ross to life in prison + 40 years without parole.
As a first-time offender and convicted… pic.twitter.com/usPlbN79j1
– BitPhree (@BitPhree) September 30, 2023
However, not everyone agrees with this sentiment. Some users claim that Ulbricht’s trial included allegations of hiring hitmen to commit murder, although he was not formally charged with these crimes. Furthermore, other users highlighted 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 sells drugs, human trafficking and other things. Let’s not pretend it hasn’t been used by terrible people to do these things. However, I’m sure that’s not how he intended it to be used
– Shooooooo (@shoooiiiiii) October 2, 2023
The controversy surrounding the Ulbricht case is heightened by comparisons to the sentences handed down against others linked to the Silk Road. Defenders of Ulbricht’s freedom highlight that the average sentence for those involved is about six years. The biggest drug peddler received only seven years in prison before being released. Moreover, the creators of Silk Road 2.0 spent minimal or no time in prison, and are now free.
Darknet market that pioneered illicit Bitcoin trading
Silk Road began operations in 2011 as a pioneering darknet marketplace where users could buy and sell illegal goods and services using Bitcoin as the base currency. Ulbricht, operating under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” ran the platform from his laptop. It quickly gained attention as the first modern dark web marketplace.
The US FBI seized Ulbricht’s laptop on October 1, 2013, effectively ending its control of the Silk Road. Then, in 2015, he was convicted in a US federal court on multiple charges related to market operations and sentenced to life imprisonment plus forty years, with no possibility of parole.
Court documents open Silk Road facilitated the sale of 9,519,664 bitcoins between February 2011 and July 2013, collecting commissions totaling 600,000 bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commissions at the time of publication.
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