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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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Free Ross Ulbricht
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Jan


There were amazing developments in Ross’ trial this past week!

Ross’ attorney, Joshua Dratel, stunned the courtroom by saying that yes, Ross did create the Silk Road. We were shocked like everybody else.

He went on to explain that Ross did this as a free market experiment, but realized it was going in a negative direction, and turned it over to someone else. It was this person, realizing he was in danger of arrest, who set Ross up as the fall guy.

Dratel later cross-examined the government’s own witness, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent who testified that for two years he was pursuing someone else. It was only at the last minute that he was diverted to Ross. The prosecution objected in the middle of this testimony, the jury was dismissed, and today the judge will decide if Dratel can continue this line of questioning.

You can read more details about the first week of trial on the Free Ross Facebook Page.

Today should be riveting, as this story unfolds. We believe it is finally being demonstrated that Ross is not guilty. We are very hopeful that he will be free by the end of the trial.

Ross’ lawyers are working around the clock and are brilliant. We are so grateful to our supporters for helping us hire people of this caliber.

Onward,

The Ulbricht Family
 
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Silk-Road-Prozess: Verteidigung beschuldigt Mt.-Gox-Chef Karpeles

15


Hammer auf Richterbank
Bild: dpa, Uli Deck
Eine überraschende Wendung im Prozess gegen den mutmaßlichen Silk-Road-Betreiber: Die Verteidigung behauptet, dass Mark Karpeles, Chef der insolventen Bitcoin-Börse Mt. Gox, der eigentliche Strippenzieher des Drogenmarktplatzes gewesen sei.
Im Prozess um den geschlossenen Drogenmarktplatz Silk Road hat die Verteidigung des Angeklagten Ross U. eine überraschende Anschuldigung ausgesprochen: Mark Karpeles, Chef der untergegangenen Bitcoin-Börse Mt. Gox, soll der eigentliche Kopf hinter der Silk Road gewesen sein. Zeugenaussagen eines Fahnders vom Department of Homeland Security (DHS) würden dies belegen. Karpeles wies diese Darstellung zurück.
Die Verteidigung behauptet demnach laut US-Berichten, Karpeles habe von 2011 bis 2013 im Hintergrund die Strippen in der illegalen Plattform gezogen; einer seiner Vertrauten, ein kanadischer Informatiker, habe derweil unter dem Pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts“ als Betreiber der Silk Road agiert. Bereits zum Prozessauftakt Anfang der Woche hatte der Angeklagte Ross U. seine Unschuld beteuert. Er habe zwar den Marktplatz erfunden und aufgebaut, sei dann aber ausgestiegen und habe das Ruder an eine andere Person übergeben, die dann das Pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts" angenommen habe.
Ermittlungen gegen Karpeles
Der DHS-Beamte sagte laut dem Onlinemagazin Daily Dot aus, dass er Karpeles bei seinen zwei Jahre dauernden Ermittlungen als Silk-Road-Macher in Verdacht hatte. So habe es zahlreiche Indizien gegeben, etwa die Registrierung einer Domain Silkroadmarket.org durch Mutum Sigilum, der US-Niederlassung von Karpeles Bitcoin-Börse. Zugleich schränkte er aber ein, dass die Ermittlungen noch weiter hätten laufen müssen, um die Verdachtsmomente zu verdichten und etwa eine Verhaftung zu rechtfertigen. Im Mai 2013 hatte das DHS im Rahmen dieser und separater Ermittlungen gegen Karpeles Konten von Mutum Sigillum – der US-Niederlassung von Mt. Gox – eingefroren.
Screenshot Mark Karpeles wies die Anschuldigungen via Twitter zurück Bild: Screenshot
Bei einem darauf folgenden Treffen von Ermittlern und Anwälten von Karpeles hätten diese das Thema Silk Road aufgebracht und einen Deal vorgeschlagen: Karpeles sei bereit, den mutmaßlichen Betreiber der Plattform ans Messer zu liefern, wenn im Gegenzug Vorwürfe gegen ihn fallengelassen würden. Die Verteidigung von Ross U. behauptet nun, dass ihr Mandant zu diesem Zeitpunkt angelockt wurde, wieder bei der Silk Road einzusteigen – als nichtsahnender Strohmann.
"Ich bin nicht und war auch nie der Dread Pirate Roberts“
Mark Karpeles hat die Anschuldigung zurückgewiesen. „Es wird vielleicht enttäuschend für euch sein, aber ich bin nicht und war auch nie der Dread Pirate Roberts“, erklärte er über seinen Twitter-Account. Gegenüber Ars Technica führte er aus, keine Verbindung mit der Silk Road gehabt zu haben. Die fragliche Domain habe ein Kunde seines Hosting-Services Kalyhost.com registriert. Auf die Frage nach einem Deal zwischen seinen Anwälten und Ermittlern wollte er nicht ins Detail gehen. Es habe Zusammenarbeit mit Ermittlern gegeben, Ross U. sei ihm jedoch nicht bekannt gewesen.
Laut einem Bericht von Le Monde ist Karpeles bereits vorbestraft: 2010 wurde der zuvor nach Japan ausgewanderte Franzose in Abwesenheit zu einer Haftstrafe wegen Betrugs verurteilt. Die Untersuchungen zur Insolvenz seiner Börse Mt. Gox deuten laut Berichten darauf, dass die Plattform nicht durch einen Hack, sondern eine Insidertat große Mengen an Bitcoins einbüßte. Ob die ermittelnde Tokioter Polizei Karpeles dabei als Verdächtigen im Visier hat, ist nicht bekannt. (axk)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Silk Road Trial: Ross Ulbricht's defense claims Mt. Gox leader was Dread Pirate Robert


Technology
Source: i.imgur.com
Source: i.imgur.com

Courthouse news service

Wednesday, December 17, 2014Last Update: 1:00 PM PT

Judge Narrows Scope of Silk Road Trial
     MANHATTAN (CN) - When trial starts for alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht next month, federal prosecutors can use the website's narcotics sales evidence against him. They can introduce Ulbricht's fake IDs into evidence. They can even show a jury emails related to murder-for-hire allegations.
     But they cannot throw every illegal activity that allegedly took place on his website against him in court, a federal judge ruled at a hearing on Wednesday.
     U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest's finding narrows the government's case against Ulbricht, whom prosecutors call the chief of "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet."
     Through anonymous, nearly untraceable Bitcoin transactions, Silk Road facilitated "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over a hundred thousand buyers worldwide," the indictment alleges.
     Prosecutors believe that Ulbricht is "Dread Pirate Roberts," the pseudonym of the site's owner.
     With his trial weeks away, the parties met for a final pretrial conference where Forrest warned prosecutors that their conspiracy tries to prove too much.
     "I want to say to the government that I'm troubled by the breadth of your theory on the nature of your conspiracy," she said.
     She explained that the indictment lumps a wide range of wares - from narcotics to knockoff Gucci belts to counterfeit currencies and more - under the same alleged plot.
     "I find that extraordinarily broad," she said.
     Ulbricht's lawyer, Joshua Dratel, has objected to that aspect of the case too, and he has argued that this only showed that Silk Road kept a hands-off approach to what its users sold. He compared prosecuting the website for conspiracy to charging AT&T, or landlords, for plotting with drug dealers who use their phones or live in their buildings.
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Serrin Turner claims that Ulbricht was very much a part of Silk Road's trade, and even grew magic mushrooms to test sales on the website.
     "I know that the defense wants to argue this was a neutral site," he said. "The point is, this was a marketplace that caters to criminals."
     Forrest was not persuaded.
     "What I'm concerned about is the conspiracy of all things illegal," she said.
     Dratel added that there was an "apples and oranges aspect" to the government's approach.
     "At the end of the day, we have this giant tail wagging this tiny dog," he said.
     Although Dratel succeeded in narrowing the case against Ulbricht, he was unable to bar some of the more sensational evidence against him.
     Forrest ruled that fake IDs that Ulbricht allegedly bought are fair game for trial.
     Since Ulbricht allegedly brought those IDs on Silk Road, the evidence could be used to show that he tried "a sampling of the goods," and had a "consciousness of guilt," Forrest ruled.
     Even though Ulbricht is not charged with murder-for-hire in New York, the jury here can also see emails suggesting that he hired a hit man to kill a Silk Road user who threatened to release the identities of thousands of other customers. Ulbricht was charged for this alleged conspiracy in Maryland.
     But Silk Road's trade of online music, guns, armory, silencers and the rest of it have no place in next month's trial.
     "You have quite a story, without all of that," Forrest told prosecutors.
     The judge also forbade either side from commenting on Ulbricht's widely reported libertarian politics.
     Forbes delved into Ulbricht's college activism, support for Tea Party intellectual godfather Ron Paul and a mission statement of Silk Road two years ago to hammer home this point.
     It then quoted Dread Pirate Roberts as having written: "Silk Road was founded on libertarian principles and continues to be operated on them. The same principles that have allowed Silk Road to flourish can and do work anywhere human beings come together. The only difference is that the State is unable to get its thieving murderous mitts on it."
      Forrest warned that sentiments like these are not for the jury.
     "Whether you like the politics or don't like the politics is totally irrelevant to whether the government has met its burden of proof," she said.
     Jury selection will begin on Jan. 5.

Editor's Note: The original version of this article attributed a quote from Dread Pirate Roberts to his suspected real-life alter ego, Ross Ulbricht. Courthouse News regrets the phrasing.