Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, serving life in prison without parole, has joined Twitter. While denied direct internet access from behind bars, he is now able to communicate with the Twittersphere, in a fashion, with the aid of hand-written notes posted to a Twitter account in his name. It is hoped the account will keep his case in the spotlight as he fights for his freedom.
Ross Ulbricht Finds His Voice
For approaching five years, Ross Ulbricht has awoken each morning inside a federal penitentiary. Barring a miracle, that pattern will repeat every day for the rest of his life. Despite all conventional avenues of appeal having been exhausted, hopes remain that the Silk Road mastermind may eventually taste freedom. Until such a time, the 34-year-old now has a means of conveying his thoughts to the public, many of whom have been campaigning for his release.
@RealRossU is the handle of the Twitter account that launched today to convey the thoughts of Ross Ulbricht. "I'm hoping to find my voice here after all these years of silence. It has been a strange journey, but I'm so grateful for all those who've shown love and support and held me up through the hard times. You give me strength," he writes in a note that has been transcribed and shared on his behalf. A photo of the original letter, hosted on freeross.org, attests to its authenticity.
"This is My First Time on Twitter"
"This is my first time on Twitter," writes Ross, "so I'm not sure yet what I'll be tweeting about. I guess we'll figure it out together. It's coming up on five years that I've been in prison though, so I'm hoping this will help me feel more connected to the outside. Thank you for supporting me and for all your support in my struggle for freedom."
Ross Ulbricht is serving his sentence in USP Florence High, a maximum security penitentiary in Colorado, which has a population of 776 inmates. Policy governing the electronic communications granted to prisoners differs on a state by state and case by case basis. However, individuals whose cases have become a cause célèbre have been granted this right in the past, albeit under tight restrictions. Chelsea Manning was able to join Twitter in 2015 while imprisoned and dictate communications over the phone to a third party who published them on her behalf.
If Ross's updates are to be delivered by mail only, as appears to be the case, followers will have to content themselves with sporadic updates. That said, given the amount of free time the Austin, Texas native has at his disposal, he may be able to despatch multiple missives that are shared in installments. Within an hour of his first tweet being published, @RealRossU had already attracted 500 followers, a number that is sure to grow significantly in the coming days. While social metrics and the minutiae of Twitter are the least of Ross Ulbricht's concerns, knowing that an army of followers are hanging on his every word is sure to fortify him as his fight for freedom steps up.
Do you think Ross Ulbricht will ever receive clemency? Let us know in the comments section below.