Trump Woos Libertarians with Promise to Free Ross Ulbricht

Former president Donald Trump’s speech at last week’s Libertarian National Convention got a fair amount of press coverage, primarily because the Libertarian crowd openly booed him on several occasions.

However, there was also a notable moment of thunderous applause and cheers when Trump promised to commute the prison sentence of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

While Trump’s promise may be mere political posturing, the Ross Ulbricht case is a good example of how the U.S. justice system has become corrupted for political purposes.

Ulbricht was the creator of the Silk Road hidden website which existed primarily on the Dark Web. The experimental site began as a kind of anonymous type of eBay marketplace where users could purchase and sell otherwise illicit items.

The concept took hold and Ulbricht, whose background was in physics, eventually handed off his invention as it grew too big for him to manage.

Eventually, Silk Road became known as an online black market where buyers could privately purchase peer-reviewed drugs from customer-rated sellers. New York District federal prosecutors came after Ulbricht following claims that murder-for-hire was also being marketed on the site.

Those highly publicized charges were never tried or proven in court, yet Ulbricht was given two life sentences plus 40 years based upon those accusations.

There were also obvious concerns with the politically-driven nature of Ulbricht’s trial and the lengths to which prosecutors and even the judge were willing to bend rules in order to obtain a conviction.

While Ulbricht’s attorneys admitted that he had created the Silk Road site, his prosecution over crimes he did not personally commit raises some serious questions about the kind of precedent his case has established.

For his part, Ulbricht was encouraged by Trump’s comments regarding commuting his sentence.

Whether Trump is sincere about freeing Ulbricht or simply trying to win over third party voters by making political promises, freeing Ross Ulbricht would send a very strong message to an increasingly politicized federal justice apparatus.

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