The petition for Ulbricht’s release has amassed over 29,000 signatures within a week from being launched—almost three times its goal.
Last week, the #FreeRossPetition was launched on Change.org. Ross Ulbricht, the subject of the petition, has been slapped with grave penalties—two life sentences with no possibility of parole on top of three other sentences for 20 years, 15 years, and five. The petition hopes to gain enough signatures to get the US president’s attention and potentially a legal reconsideration.
Ulbricht, known to the dark web as Dread Pirate Roberts, was the founder of Silk Road, an underground Amazon for the black market. Ulbricht’s allies are not arguing that a punishment is in order, but that the punishment he received is far too severe considering the fact that his offenses were non-violent.
“My son, Ross Ulbricht, is serving a double life sentence plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole, for a website he made when he was 26 years old and passionate about free markets and privacy. Ross―an Eagle Scout, scientist and peaceful entrepreneur―had all non-violent charges and no criminal history,” the petition wrote. “This is a sentence that shocks the conscience.”
In contrast, they compare Ulbricht’s sentence to that given to the most gruesome crimes in existence.
“Ross is condemned to die in prison, not for dealing drugs himself but for a website where others did. This is far harsher than the punishment for many murderers, pedophiles, rapists and other violent people.”
The petition has gathered 29,400 signatures at the time of writing, and big names in the cryptocurrency industry are weighing in. Silk Road, after all, was one of the first adopters of bitcoin, with the marketplace transacting exclusively in the cryptocurrency back then in order to keep transactions almost entirely anonymous. At the time, cryptocurrencies were entirely unregulated and KYC requirements were non-existent.
I found out about Bitcoin from an article on Silk Road. Whatever you think of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road, does not deserve a life sentence w/o the possibility of parole. Please join me to sign the petition: https://t.co/ln7BeGuoWR #FreeRossPetition @Free_Ross
— Charlie Lee [LTC⚡] (@SatoshiLite) July 20, 2018
Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin, attributes his discovery of Bitcoin to Silk Road.
Shapeshift CEO Erik Voorhees also thinks “serving double life for a website” doesn’t make sense.
— Erik Voorhees (@ErikVoorhees) July 19, 2018
And while some may think that app developers being sympathetic to Ulbricht isn’t surprising (because this could have easily been any one of them), the wave has been reaching beyond the cryptocurrency industry. Jeffrey Tucker, a fellow at the Austrian Economics Center, has re-Tweeted the petition.
— Jeffrey A Tucker (@jeffreyatucker) July 17, 2018
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.