Silk Road founder to walk free if Trump re-elected

Donald J. Trump has vowed to commute the life sentence of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht to time served if he is re-elected as president.

“If you vote for me, on Day 1, I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht to a sentence of time served,” Trump announced during his Saturday night address at the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, D.C. “He’s already served 11 years, we’re gonna get him home.”

Earlier that day, Trump said he supports the cryptocurrency industry. Writing on Truth Social, he stated: “I am very positive and open-minded to cryptocurrency companies and all things related to this new and burgeoning industry. Our country must be the leader in the field. There is no second place.” He criticized President Joe Biden, claiming that Biden “wants [the cryptocurrency industry] to die a slow and painful death. That will never happen with me!”

Trump’s promise to free Ulbricht was met with enthusiastic applause from the audience, many of whom held signs reading “Free Ross.” In 2015, Ulbricht received two consecutive life sentences plus 40 years for creating and operating Silk Road, a darknet marketplace primarily used for drug transactions from 2011 to 2013. The platform is considered one of the first real-world applications of Bitcoin.

Ulbricht has become a martyr for many in the crypto and libertarian communities, who view his harsh sentence as an overreach by the government and a violation of his constitutional rights. In 2018, the Libertarian Party urged then-President Trump to pardon Ulbricht.

Before leaving office in January 2021, Trump granted clemency to 143 individuals, including 73 pardons and 70 commutations. Notably, he did not offer clemency to Ulbricht, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, or whistleblower Edward Snowden.

At the convention, Trump also criticized Biden’s stance on cryptocurrency, promising to “stop Joe Biden’s crusade to crush crypto.” He declared, “I will ensure that the future of crypto and the future of Bitcoin will be made in the USA, not driven overseas. I will support the right to self-custody.” Addressing the nation’s fifty million crypto holders, Trump vowed, “I will keep Elizabeth Warren and her goons away from your Bitcoin, and I will never allow the creation of a central bank digital currency.”