Trump Vows to Pardon Silk Road Creator Ross Ulbricht if Re-Elected

Ross Ulbricht has served 11 years of his sentence of two life terms plus 40 years for creating the darknet marketplace Silk Road.

Donald J. Trump has pledged to commute the life sentence of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht to time served if re-elected 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 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 expressed support for the cryptocurrency industry on Truth Social, writing:

“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,” Trump wrote, criticizing President Joe Biden for wanting the cryptocurrency industry to “die a slow and painful death.” He assured, “That will never happen with me!”

Trump’s promise to free Ulbricht was met with enthusiastic cheers from the audience, many of whom held signs reading “Free Ross.” In 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 40 years for creating and operating Silk Road. This now-defunct darknet marketplace, which operated from 2011 to 2013, was primarily used for drug transactions and is considered the first real-world use case for Bitcoin.

Ulbricht has become a martyr for many in the crypto community and Libertarians, who view his severe 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.

During his presidency, Trump granted clemency to 143 individuals but did not offer it to Ulbricht, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, or whistleblower Edward Snowden. Among those pardoned was Ripple board member Ken Kurson.

At the convention, Trump also addressed the broader cryptocurrency landscape, vowing to stop Joe Biden’s “crusade to crush crypto.” “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,” Trump declared, to loud applause. “To the nation’s fifty million crypto holders, I say this: 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.”

In recent months, Trump has shown increased support for cryptocurrency, making several pro-crypto statements and becoming the first major party presidential candidate to accept crypto donations.