The first day of the trial of Ross Ulbricht, alleged kingpin behind The Silk Road, is over with just one bombshell revelation: Ulbricht is admitting that he founded the website. But he’s denying being the drug-dealing mastermind the feds make him out to be.
Ars Technica has the full breakdown of the day’s events. The prosecution and defence both laid out their stalls in the opening statements. The prosecution case is exactly as we’d expect: the Silk Road undoubtedly sold all manner of illegal shit, and it was famously run by a shadowy figure calling himself Dread Pirate Roberts. Federal agents busted Ulbricht with his laptop logged into a Silk Road admin page; ergo, Ulbricht is Dread Pirate Roberts, and yes, he’ll look great in that orange jumpsuit.
It was the defence that turned out to be so surprising. Basically, Ulbricht admits that he set the website up, but as an ‘economic experiment’. Once he realised the direction the site was going in, he handed control over to the real DPR. He was set up as a fall guy once the feds started sniffing around, which is ultimately why he was caught red-handed logged into the Silk Road.
It’s certainly an audacious story — and one that sounds like it relies more on circumstantial evidence than provable fact. Whether or not it’s enough to persuade the 12 members of the jury remains to be seen, but either way, this is shaping up to be one hell of a trial. [Ars Technica]