Hi you all! Ross and I are so pleased that I’m here and part of this innovative community and technology. I’m glad to have the chance to tell my story directly to you -- to fill you in on the past three years of my life and my battle to free Ross.
My son Ross Ulbricht -- a peaceful, idealistic humanitarian –was tried and sentenced to double life without parole for all non-violent charges relating to his role in the Silk Road website. Silk Road was a free market experiment: a voluntary, anonymous marketplace that operated on the tor network using the crypto currency bitcoin. Many things, both legal and illegal, were exchanged, although there were restrictions of things considered harmful by the administration. For example, there was no child porn, murder-for-hire or stolen goods on the site. Drug sales were permitted, with marijuana the main product that was bought and sold.
Since Ross’ arrest it’s been a David and Goliath fight against the US government. The investigation, pre-trial events, trial and sentencing are so rife with abuse and corruption that it’s impossible to cover everything. Here are some major issues:
It’s been a wild and crazy three years to say the least. Since Ross’ arrest I’ve strived to the limits of my strength to direct attention beyond the sensationalism to the important precedents and issues at stake in this case and how they impact our freedoms in the digital age. In addition to Ross’ release, my goal is to shine a light on the alarming loss of our liberty while raising funds to defend Ross. (Any payments from here go 100% to Ross’ defense). This is basically my life now, with some down time sprinkled in.
Things weren’t always like this, and I often shake my head wondering how I got here! Before Ross’ arrest I was the gracefully aging mother of two beautiful, well-adjusted adults, hoping for grandchildren and planning the rest of my life. I had pretty much retired from freelance writing and was continuing to work with Kirk, Ross’ dad, in our business, Casa Bambu. (We rent bamboo houses that Kirk built to vacationers, off grid in the Costa Rican rainforest). One day I led a relatively tranquil life and the next I was falling, like Alice through the looking glass, into a bizarre world of the dark web, encrypted communications, digital currency, and the drug war. A right-brained, tech-resistant ex- hippie, I had only owned a smart phone for a month, had never been on twitter and barely heard of bitcoin (and only from Ross). When Ross was arrested I suddenly -- and urgently -- had to become adept at social media, public relations, fundraising, pgp, bitcoin and criminal law.
It was urgent because I had to save my beloved son.
So now my life is dominated by the fictional entity Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) and I’ve been on a crash course to do whatever it takes to free Ross: blog, comment, tweet, follow, unfollow, like, unlike, friend, unfriend, defend, raise funds, encrypt, decrypt, build websites, write press releases, give speeches, give interviews, challenge journalists, translate legalese, learn digital-speak – and now post on steem.it. I have twitter followers all over the world, from Russia to Spain, from Australia to India. I’ve been called a jedi, a storm trooper, Dread Mother Roberts, a hero, a “leading internet freedom activist and social media pro” and a badass (fondly, by the lawyer). Also some nasty things on the internet, but I’m getting a thick skin.
The learning curve has been steep. Sensationalistic media; aggressive prosecutors; biased judges; cruel prison staff – the opponents are formidable and ruthless. But there have also been invaluable allies, like many of you, and that plus divine intervention has gotten us this far. I have made so many courageous, generous, amazing friends on this journey. They are people I never would have met and it has enriched my life, given me hope. I’ve often thought that the past three years would have been some of the most interesting, purposeful and exciting of my life except that Ross is in prison and that makes them the most traumatic, painful and difficult as well. As long as he’s in there, I will not – cannot -- rest.
This journey has taken me from a prison in interior Brooklyn to an interview in a multimillion dollar Soho loft (on the same afternoon); from high priced attorney offices to clandestine meetings; from a freedom festival in New Hampshire to trudging through Austin streets hanging posters at SXSW (and then speaking there the following year). Never having addressed audiences, I’ve now spoken at numerous events, both in the US and Europe (including Porcfest, FreedomFest and the national Libertarian convention); appeared on a range of TV, radio and podcast shows, including Reason TV, CNN, HuffPost Live, Infowars and Fox; and given many interviews with both major and alternative media , including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The Guardian. Along with Ross, I am prominently featured in the documentary Deep Web.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed this would be my fate.
Pursuing American justice is expensive and the challenge is great, but I’m fueled by a mother’s love and now a righteous anger at government abuse. I have seen first-hand how prosecutors lie and obstruct. I have visited the prison with other families, desperate to see loved ones, the children tearfully clinging to their fathers. I personally know non-violent people rotting their lives away in captivity. My perspective has changed forever.
Besides my love for Ross and resistance to tyranny, a crucial thing that keeps me going is my faith in God. I have faced some of the darkest places in my mind, fear gripping me, my thoughts screaming, “You can’t do this! They’re too big!” Yet I find peace and hope when I can turn the burden over and take on that day’s fight once again. I have felt God’s hand in this throughout, in many ways, large and small. There has been the unlikely but perfect timing of events; the right people arriving at the right time; doors opening when all seemed closed; the impossible occurring against all odds. I pray each day that God will use me, Ross and this situation for good and that it will shine a spotlight on evil. And of course that Ross will be out of that cage, in freedom where he belongs.
This is a bigger, more far reaching story than one man or website. There are vital issues at play, ones that impact us all and are worth fighting for. We are in unchartered territory in the courts. Decisions and precedent made now, with the Silk Road case and others, will have far-reaching impact on freedom, innovation, fair trials and privacy.
We are at a crossroads in history. The question and challenge is which road will we take: the one to freedom and innovation, or the one to government intrusion, expansion and control. It is up to us to make sure we take that freedom road.
Please help us! Of course, please upvote this post. You can also go to FreeRoss.org for lots of other ways to support our battle. You can donate; play the art game; purchase at our store; volunteer; and spread the word on social media and to your network. Everything helps. We’re just one family and some friends. We need you!