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Will anyone donate to the Dread Pirate Roberts defense fund?

Just one day after Ross Ulbricht was arrested, a legal support fund has materialized to defend the alleged proprietor of the Silk Road. 


Patrick Howell O'Neill

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 3, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 5:00 am CDT

Just one day after Ross Ulbricht was arrested and accused of being Dread Pirate Roberts, the man behind Silk Road, a legal support fund has materialized to defend him. was registered and set up today by Mike Gogulski, one of the cofounders of the Bradley Manning Support Network and

“Raising funds for his legal defense is important,” Gogulski writes, “since the more legal resources one has, the better the chances of acquittal or reduced sentencing.”

The fund was launched at 3pm ET, so the Bitcoin address being used to collect money sits at a meager 0.1045 bitcoins (about $12) on the power of two donations. The future of the fund, however, poses an interesting question.

For the two years that Dread Pirate Roberts steered Silk Road, he was a cult hero. He preached strong libertarian values and had a major following for his stance against the drug war.

Now, with charges for two attempted assassination plots under his belt, support for the Silk Road’s dear leader has eroded enormously. Several early critics wonder why anyone would donate to a man who made millions from his black market.

“I think that Ross will have any remaining assets frozen,” wrote Gogulski,  a former American who renounced his citizenship and now lives in Bratislava, Slovakia, “as proceeds of ‘crimes’ and eventually taken by the US fucking government. This will include the storage media containing his private keys. He is very likely to need financial help to pay for counsel unless he’s already sitting on a nice pile of money that he can demonstrate comes from ‘legitimate’ sources.”

Although the fund will almost certainly receive real blowback, consider its chances for success. Gogulski is a known figure whose Bradley Manning Support Network has received extensive press coverage around the world. The related Bradley Manning defense fund raised $1,447,756. Can he do it again?

Illustration via Jason Reed

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*First Published: Oct 3, 2013, 6:13 pm CDT