Wired’s Andy Greenback says to be the only journalist to have interviewed “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR), Silk Road’s head administrator.
When he wrote for Forbes in 2013, a few months before Ulbricht’s arrest, he spent five hours chatting with DPR. Greenberg says that the interview can serve as valuable evidence. Agent Der-Yeghiayan had e-mailed it to his colleagues when they were investigating Karpeles’ potential connection with Silk Road. Furthermore, Greenberg writes, “the Dread Pirate Roberts told me in that interview that he hadn’t actually created the Silk Road, but instead had befriended its creator and later acquired the site from him.”
This is essentially defense lawyer Joshua Dratel’s central argument, which he unveiled on the first day of the trial.
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The contentious issue was whether the jury should be allowed to hear such evidence; The prosecution categorized it as “double hearsay” because the statements were first made by DPR, then by a journalist. Yesterday, Judge Katherine Forrest sided with the prosecution on the issue.
After the arrest, Greenberg says he received a call from an FBI staffer, who told him that his interviewee had really been Ulbricht. The latter, according to the caller, had really lied about the existence of multiple Silk Road owners in order to throw off investigators.
Greenberg maintains, however, that the flow of the conversation and its elaboration upon new ownership make it worthy of examination.
Whatever the outcome of the trial, it is a sobering reminder of the world of virtual identities on the internet. Bitcoin is the classic manifestation–exemplified by its creator(s) remaining virtually anonymous, as we were reminded of during reports of the supposed hacking into his inbox.