The parents of the man convicted of running online narcotics emporium Silk Road spoke out just a day before his conviction about their frustration with the way the trial was proceeding.
Ross Ulbricht, 30, was convicted on Wednesday of all seven counts including trafficking drugs on the internet, narcotics-trafficking conspiracy, running a continuing criminal enterprise, computer-hacking conspiracy, and money-laundering conspiracy.
His mum, Lyn Ulbricht, spoke to CNN Money on Tuesday maintaining her son’s innocence. “The most frustrating thing is that evidence that is favourable to Ross is being suppressed,” she told CNN. “This came out in the cross examination for the first witness.”
The evidence Lyn refers to emerged during defence attorney Joshua Dratel’s cross-examination of DHS agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan. That agent investigated Silk Road for two years and admitted at the end of the trial’s first week that, Mark Karpeles, founder of the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, was the DHS’ main suspect only a month and a half before Ulbricht’s arrest.
Der-Yeghiayan confirmed that at one point he sought a warrant to search Karpeles’ Gmail account based on “probable cause” that the Mt. Gox owner had secretly administered the Silk Road in a bid to boost the price of bitcoin, Wired reported. In an affidavit, Der-Yeghiayan also mentioned an interview conducted between Forbes’ Andy Greenberg and Dread Pirate Roberts in 2013 “that sounded very much like Karpeles.”
The defence suffered a major blow when, the following week, Judge Katherine Forrest dismissed this part of the Der-Yeghiayan’s testimony as “hearsay” and instructed the jury to disregard any mention Der-Yeghiayan had made of Mark Karpeles during the cross-examination.
“He never came across Ross’ name but did … pinpoint another name which he said was Mark Karpeles,” Lyn continued, in the CNN Money interview. “He was closing in on Karpeles when another DHS agency [inadvertently] tipped off Karpeles.”
The stricken testimony incriminating Karpeles was not the only part of the trial Ulbricht’s family and supporters found frustrating.
“We believe there were significant errors at trial, including the limiting of defence cross-examination, the preclusion of defence experts, and the exclusion of certain defence evidence in the form of documents and other exhibits,” Ulbricht’s lawyer, defence attorney Joshua Dratel, said in an emailed statement to Business Insider.
Ulbricht’s supporters have alleged that the case could have a huge impact on internet freedom, as it is one of the first times an individual has been charged for building a website.
Ulbricht was arrested by the FBI at a public library in San Francisco in October 2013. After many delays, his trial began in Manhattan on Jan. 13.
Prosecutors accused Ulbricht of being Dread Pirate Roberts (a reference to the cult movie “The Princess Bride“), the founder and operator of the Silk Road website. Ulbricht pleaded not guilty to every charge.
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