Twenty-nine year -old alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is not the drug running kingpin the government claims he is, says his mother.
Lyn Ulbricht, with her husband Kirk Ulbricht, is launching a website and a legal fund — FreeRoss.org — that she says will show the government is wrong about her son.
Ulbricht was arrested Oct. 1 at the San Francisco Public Library, after nearly two years of surveillance by the FBI. He has been charged with three counts of conspiracy involving narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering.
The government says Ulbricht is “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the founder and chief operator of the Silk Road, an online marketplace offering relatively private transactions. Government and media hype have focused on malefactors who use Silk Road to communicate, buy and sell drugs, and even arrange murders using sophisticated encryption and BitCoin, a digital currency.
Federal prosecutors in New York have fed an eager media tales of Ulbricht’s six attempts to hire assassins to kill his enemies, but no such charges were filed and the state concedes that no actual murder plots were carried out.
Ulbricht lived in an apartment with three other people in San Francisco and doesn’t own a car.
Lyn Ulbricht says that the charges don’t fit her son. “He’s very intelligent, he’s a stellar human being,” Ulbricht told The Daily Caller. “He’s very libertarian. He has a master’s degree in materials science.”
Lyn doubts that Ulbricht could have done what the government says. He travels for long stretches of time without a computer.
“He’s not a computer nerd. He was never trained in that,” she told TheDC. “He doesn’t have the technological expertise and background that I would guess it would take to create something like this site [Silk Road].”
“We have good reason to believe he couldn’t have been this entity, DPR, at various points and that he’s innocent,” she said. “He calls home, goes on family reunions. Just before he got arrested we went camping.”
Ulbricht and her husband started the website, FreeRoss.org, because they had read news reports that maligned their son’s character. “I read all these distortions about him saying he was this ‘troubled loner’ and a ‘murderer,’ a ‘master mind.’ And I’m like, that’s not Ross. I’ve got to write about who he is. That’s how it started. It’s sort of evolved into this fundraiser.”
Ulbricht is hoping that the libertarian and online community can come help her family in their hour of need.
“We are just a regular family. We don’t have money. He’s not a drug kingpin and we aren’t the recipient of a drug kingpin’s fortune,” she said. “We need help.”
Ross showed few signs of the drug wealth the government says he has.
“He lived with three other young people in San Francisco,” Lyn Ulbricht said. “They shared rent. He didn’t own a car. He was wearing the shoes I bought for him two years ago when he was arrested.”
He got his roommates like any other twenty-something — off Craigslist. “My husband and I stayed in the house and they knew Ross by his name. He was well liked.”
In August, Andy Greenberg of Forbes interviewed someone claiming to be Dread Pirate Roberts. Lyn doubts that Ross was the person interviewed. “This is not how Ross talks.”
“The charge would be laughable if they weren’t so serious,” says Lyn. “He quotes Von Mises Institute, Ron Paul. He’s very libertarian.”
“In these days of government intrusion and overreach, this case is not just about Ross. It has far-reaching implications,” Lyn emailed. “It will establish precedent on such issues as individual and Internet freedom; personal and financial privacy; and the role of government in our lives. The outcome of this case will impact our future and our freedom.”