Thursday, November 7, 2013

Alleged Silk Road Operator Ross Ulbricht's First NY Court Appearance (Hires Terrorist Lawyer)

By Andy Greenberg

The thin, tousled-hair 29-year-old who stood before a judge in a downtown Manhattan courtroom Wednesday didn’t look like an Internet drug kingpin. And the lawyer defending him says he intends to show that he’s not.

Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged creator of the Web’s-most-popular anonymous drug bazaar known as the Silk Road, appeared in a New York court for the first time Wednesday morning for an uneventful hearing that established he would have a bail hearing in just over two weeks, as well as a pretrial hearing within 30 days to hear the government’s charges against him. Ulbricht wore blue prison scrubs over a brown T-shirt, and answered the judge in short sentences like “Yes, sir,” and “I do,” when asked if he understood the proceedings.

In the courthouse hallway after the short hearing, Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel had much more to say: Namely, that Ulbricht is not the creator of the Silk Road, who used the pseudonym the Dread Pirate Roberts to run a lucrative online operation. “The evidence can’t establish that he is who they say he is, or that he’s done what they say he’s done,” Dratel told reporters.

Dratel noted that he hasn’t yet been given access to all of the government’s evidence and has only met with Ulbricht for 25 minutes since he was extradited to New York from the Glen Dyer detention facility in Oakland, California. But Dratel says he has spoken to individuals close to his young client, who have told him that he’s “an achiever,” a “loyal friend,” “someone who’s never been in trouble,” “has no violence in his background whatsoever,” and is “not the person alleged these charges.”

Dratel, who has spent much of his career defending high-profile terrorist cases, said that he intends to seek bail for Ulbricht at the November 21st hearing. “He’s a poster boy for bail,” Dratel said, noting that he would be willing to consider measures like electronic monitoring.

Read the rest here.

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