Ross Ulbricht’s petition is gaining traction each day and may hit the targeted signatures before the end of the week. The petition is less than 5,000 shy of hitting the current target of 50,000 signatures. The campaign to free Ross Ulbricht that started four weeks ago is showing signs of great success. It is likely, once 50,000 signatures are hit, a new goal of 75,000 or 100,000 signatures will be set up. And these new goals are also achievable having seen the success of the petition thus far.
Achieving the milestone is expected to drive a greater awareness about Ross’ case and unfortunate incarceration. Currently, he can receive clemency from the governor of Colorado or a presidential pardon from Donald Trump. Recently, Ulbricht’s defense team attempted to appeal his sentence for the second time. Unfortunately, the most recent application was denied by the Supreme Court.
But hope is not lost at all. In fact, since 2011, the White House has responded to over 200 online petitions with a 360% increase in participation. Generally, to make through the front door of the White House, a petition online would require minimally 100,000 real signatures.
While Ulbricht’s petition seeks clemency, it can have a number of outcomes. A greater awareness can lead to public outcry, forcing a reexamination of the trial, or an eventual reduction of the sentence.
The 34-year-old Texan, from Austin, was arrested in October 2013. His trial lasted two years and he was indicted on charges of computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics and money laundering. He was set before Judge Katherine Forrest, who came in with bias already. Her personal information was leaked to the public and she never thought once to recuse herself from her position.
As a result, she swore to hand Ulbricht ‘the severest sentence possible.’ Yet for nonviolent crimes relating to ownership of the dark web Silk Road website, the judgment caused uproars as it seemed unfair and would set a precedent with far-reaching implications for future digital cases of similar nature. Importantly, the trial leading up to the heavy-handed sentence left a lot to be desired in the manner which it was handled in itself as well as corruption and tampering of evidence.
Since Ulbricht’s fall, no other darknet vendor or buyer has received a similar sentence for even worse crimes committed such as child pornography. Instead, Ross was made an example and it is clear to his following and family.
The Freeross.org website chronicles Ross’s journey through the trial as well as steps taken after the judgment. As seen from the site, a couple of contentious issues pertaining to the trial are discussed in detail. Standing out glaringly is the interference in the investigation by two federal agents – DEA agent Carl Force and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges. They currently are serving jail time for corruption offenses directly relating to the Silk Road case. Surprisingly, however, their conducts have not been considered in Ross’s appeals. It is also suspected that there could be more agents and possible interferences not declared to the court. The proven evidence interference was also not taken into consideration.
Defense cross-examination was blocked and even some witnesses were prevented from testifying. The trial was not fair and many are arguing that the 4th and 6th amendments have both be grievously violated.
Besides family there are organizations in support of the pardon petition including; National Lawyers Guild, Reason Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, American Black Cross among others who have filed Amicus Curiae briefs on the matter. Recently joining in is the US Libertarian party which unanimously agreed during their national convention to petition the US President for clemency.
Ross has recently become active on Twitter and uses the platform to connect with his followers. He made a tweet thanking them for the signatures on the petition and urged more people to help him get his release.