Silk Road from the inside: Moderator SSBD tells his story

Posted: May 27, 2015 in Silk Road
Tags: , , , ,

18 months after being arrested in Brisbane, Australian man Peter N. has been sentenced to time served by a United States judge. That means he is a free man.

Silk Road moderator SSBD is a free man

Silk Road moderator SSBD is a free man

It must have been disappointing for the prosecution who asked for an extra 10-12 years to add to the 18 months he’s already spent inside.[EDIT: See correction here] In that time he has been placed in protective custody, bashed by prison guards, extradited to the other side of the world, and separated from his family and friends.

His crime? He moderated an internet discussion forum. Now, for the first time, he tells his story

Peter N. went to bed on 19 December 2013 a content man. Holidays had started. Tomorrow he would board a plane to the UK for his first family Christmas in seven years. From there he would head to Paris for New Years Eve, where he would propose to the woman sleeping next to him.

Sitting up in bed at 5am, Pete was dealing with some final matters on the website he helped moderate and at the same time chatting via private message to Cirrus, a fellow moderator whom he had never met but considered a friend. He told Cirrus all about his planned holiday. It was then he heard strange noises coming from within the apartment.

His door burst open and more people than he ever knew could fit in his apartment swarmed in. “Australian Federal Police!” they yelled as one of them snatched the laptop from his hands. “Don’t move!’ Around fifteen police, accompanied by two FBI special agents searched every inch of the apartment while Peter was read his rights. He was allowed to comfort his partner as they ransacked his house. Computers were high on the agenda.

There would be no plane trip that day. There would be no romantic proposal at the Eiffel Tower.

Samesamebutdifferent

Silk Road by now should need no introduction.  It is the most notorious online black market that ever existed. It sold a variety of things, but mostly it sold drugs. Lots of drugs. High quality, reasonably priced cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, heroin and weed, all delivered straight to your door, ready for consumption.

Peter arrived at Silk Road late in 2012. Calling himself Samesamebutdifferent, better known as ‘SSBD’, he quickly became a prolific contributor to the Australian discussion threads and soon after, at his own request, was elevated to Moderator. “I had sent a PM to DPR [Dread Pirate Roberts, owner of Silk Road] asking about supporting the community and he just upgraded me the following day,” he said.

At first a volunteer, he was later paid $500 per week, then by mid-2013 was earning $1000 per week in Bitcoin. The bitcoin never left his account, instead being spent on cocaine, weed and MDMA. “I was just doing it because I enjoyed the camaraderie and social connections I found on the forums”, Pete said. “At that time I was going through an incredibly stressful and challenging period in my career and was I feeling very isolated in my life. The forums became my second home, I was holding down a full time job and then putting in almost the same equivalent amount of hours each day on the forums”.

Given that anonymity was sacrosanct on Silk Road, Pete was surprised when Dread Pirate Roberts (“DPR”) demanded he provide a scan of his drivers licence. But DPR assured him that it was standard for his staff.

“Hindsight is always 20/20 and providing my ID to DPR was obviously reckless and stupid,” Pete said. “You have to remember though that those were different times and no one had been busted back then and I think we were all rather misguided in our perceptions of risk”.

Anyway, Silk Road’s owner preached the importance of opsec (operational security) and anonymity. Pete’s ID would be encrypted, safely tucked away from prying eyes; Pete need only worry if he ever tried to blackmail his boss.

SSBD soon became one of the most popular and hardworking moderators on Silk Road. In his role, Pete had no control over anything that happened on the markets. He had no influence in what the marketplace did. He never sold drugs himself. He had no say in what drugs could be sold, to whom or by whom. His job was to delete spam, help “newbies” with their questions, move posts around if they were put in the wrong forums or delete them if they put someone in danger (such as if a disgruntled member posted identifying details of somebody). Forum moderators also had to immediately remove particularly objectionable posts, such as anything linking to offensive pornography or sites selling other objectionable services.

Pete got along with all the staff, but was closest to fellow moderator Scout, who later renamed herself Cirrus. “We used to exchange messages often and I frequently found myself offering [her] support.” Scout/Cirrus often inadvertently pissed off DPR, and Pete would find himself trying to offer support when things turned pear shaped for her.

As for his boss, Pete said of DPR, “it would not be unusual for him to totally ignore messages from me or others. Occasionally we would have more in-depth exchanges but he never really gave much away and our exchanges were usually rather one-sided.”

He also bought into the ‘multiple DPR’ theory. “I was sure that I was communicating with more than one person,” he said. “I used to joke with Scout/Cirrus that DPR had been replaced sometime mid 2013; it was our private joke and we started calling him ‘New DPR‘.”

Pete was instrumental in cleaning up the infamous “Infowars” posts which purported to reveal hundreds of customers of Silk Road. He also claimed to be the first to spot something fishy about recent activity of Australia’s largest and most popular local vendor, EnterTheMatrix. “My gut instinct was this was an exit scam in full flight and I had to call it,” he said. He posted his suspicions and made them a ‘sticky’, ensuring the notice would remain at the top of the forum, before heading out to dinner one night. “Needless to say I didn’t enjoy my food that night, having just called out one of the largest vendors on the market and not knowing what was going to happen.” His gut instinct, it turns out, was right; EnterTheMatrix pulled one of the largest scams in the site’s history. Pete’s position as moderator was cemented.

Pete had been going through a tough period in his life. The Silk Road forums offered him purpose, friendship and camaraderie. His position of moderator offered him status. He had all the drugs he needed for weekends to be one long party. Life was good.

October 2013

When Ross Ulbricht was arrested on 2 October 2013, accused of being Silk Road mastermind Dread Pirate Roberts and the marketplace was seized by a host of American three-letter agencies, Pete panicked. He posted some farewell messages on the forums (which, being on a separate server, had not been shut down), cleared his house of drugs, wiped his computers clean and went to ground.

But a few weeks later, with no knock on the door, the fear began to subside. A race had begun to replace the site with a new marketplace, and previous staff were invited to join forces with programmers and developers to recreate Silk Road. When the new site opened with much fanfare just a month after Ulbricht’s arrest, Pete couldn’t resist; he revived SSBD and returned to the place he had called home.

The old faces were there. Money launderer StExo had bestowed upon himself the moniker of DPR; former administrators Libertas and Inigo resumed their roles. Most importantly, Pete’s closest ally Cirrus, was on board as chief moderator of the forums. It was Cirrus to whom Pete was chatting on that fateful day six weeks later.

December 2013

After the unexpected 5am visit from representatives of both Australian and US federal law enforcement, Pete was taken to the Roma St police station, where he discovered they knew more than he ever could have imagined. Pete was not the only one arrested that day. Simultaneously, Andrew Jones, Silk Road’s second-in-command “Inigo” was arrested in Virginia, USA. Gary Davis, accused of being administrator “Libertas” was picked up in Ireland.

A police officer processing Pete’s paperwork warned him not to talk to anyone no matter what they said to him. “If you talk to these people you will fuck yourself,” the officer said. Pete was introduced to an FBI Special Agent who was there to oversee his arrest. It was suggested several times that there were things he could do right there and then to ‘help himself.’ Pete exercised his right to remain silent.

From there Pete was incarcerated and his nightmare began. The United States government had demanded he be extradited to face charges there. The Australian legal system being what it is, this meant there was virtually no chance of being released on bail whilst the courts determined whether or not to grant the USA’s request.

Pete was remanded in a Brisbane correctional facility. For a while, things were okay; or at least as okay as they could be spending Christmas in prison. But then he woke up one morning to a fellow inmate waving the front page of a local newspaper at him. It said Pete ran Silk Road whilst working in a prison. The same prison he was incarcerated in.

“I initially found it hilarious reading all the inaccuracies and sensationalist hyperbole,” he said. But then he was threatened by a group of inmates and his time in general population was over. He was moved into protective custody.

Pete – a nurse and psychologist – had worked for a service for adults with intellectual disabilities and complex behavioural support needs, including those who were in prison. The same news report stated he was “under investigation by the Crime and Misconduct Commission for allegedly smuggling a dangerous sex offender out of jail for a meal at Hungry Jack’s”. Pete denies this.

“The ‘incident’ in question related to my having escorted a client to see their doctor and whilst out we got lunch,” he said. “It was that simple, nothing untoward whatsoever and perfectly normal in the context of community rehabilitation as per that clients support plan.” But Pete soon discovered it wasn’t just his fellow prisoners he had to worry about. A while later it was reported he received a vicious bashing at the hands of prison officers. As Pete tells it:

The bashing occurred after the prison was locked down following a roof top protest that was going on somewhere in the prison. We had been locked down since early afternoon and I was alone in my cell watching TV. I became aware of a commotion on somewhere in my unit, lots of screaming and shouting basically then soon after a corrections officer acting in their capacity as the specialist response team (SRT) came onto my tier and announced a verbal warning of physical violence against anyone who called out.

Just as he said that someone made a comment and because I was looking out my cell window at the time the officer looked in my direction. I was ordered to get on the ground and put my hands behind my head. My protests that I hadn’t said anything fell on deaf ears, I am told even the corrections officer who was working our unit that day tried to intervene was disregarded. Soon after my cell door was opened and approximately five officers smashed me to the ground punching and kicking me in the head and ribs yelling at me to “stop resisting!” and to “shut the fuck up!”.

I was then handcuffed and dragged from my cell, before exiting the unit I was pushed up against the wall then my hands which where cuffed behind my back were sharply pulled back so I fell forward in a free fall so my head connected sharply with the metal shelf that ran around the outside of the fish bowl(staff observation area). I was then dragged up to a holding area near the stores and thrown onto the ground and after being uncuffed told to “clean that shit up” which was referring to the blood that was all over the walls and floor, some of it mine and some of it other inmates who had received the same treatment. I was left in the holding area for a couple of hours then taken back to my unit.

At that time I thought my ribs had been broken. I was having trouble breathing and started to hyperventilate which was probably the shock coming out. Another inmate alerted the medical team that I was in distress because they could here my distress. Soon after I had a large number of corrections officers outside my cell demanding to know what was wrong with me. At that time I was only concerned with avoiding another bashing so I told them I was ok and just needed some pain relief.

With life having become a nightmare in Australian prison and his lawyer advising him that, no matter how long it was drawn out, extradition was all but inevitable, Pete gave up the the will to fight. He waived his rights to contest his extradition and agreed to go and face the music in the United States. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York in June 2014. images-2

Another, far more famous, prisoner was also housed at the MCC. Ross Ulbricht was in another division, awaiting trial for being the Dread Pirate Roberts, Pete’s boss. And a complete stranger.

Life in the MCC

I started corresponding with Pete as soon as I heard he had been incarcerated. I hadn’t yet finished the first draft of my book when the news of all the arrests came. Our letters were carefully worded at first; I “introduced” myself as OzFreelancer (my handle on the Silk Road forums), even though SSBD and I had chatted online many times, he being the only Australian moderator of Silk Road, me being the Aussie journo writing about the site. But by the time he got to the United States and our correspondence moved from handwritten letters to the prison email service, any pretence that he was not SSBD was dropped.

They had evidence – lots of it. Bit-by-bit information came out from evidence and exhibits produced against Ross Ulbricht in the lead up to the trial of Dread Pirate Roberts. Ulbricht had kept the IDs of his staff, including the scan of Pete’s licence, in an unencrypted file on his computer. A backup server, which was housed in Pennsylvania and subjected to a search warrant, contained every single message ever sent from Silk Road.  Law enforcement was able to match up things said in private messages with events in Peter’s real life (exactly as they did with Ross Ulbricht). But Pete suspected it went further than that.

“I suspect that the police had also done a ‘sneak and peak’ into my premises at some stage,” he said. “I remember coming home from work one day and my front door key was extremely stiff whereas it normally opened very easily. At that point in time my immediate reaction was that a locksmith had tampered with it. I was told after my arrest it was most likely that the police had installed listening and possibly video surveillance in my home but I have no actual confirmation of that”.

It wasn’t until a year later, when the second incarnation of Silk Road was taken down and its staff arrested, that Pete discovered his closest ally on the site, fellow mod Cirrus, was in fact an undercover Homeland Security agent. Cirrus had been instrumental in bringing down Ross Ulbricht. It’s not immediately clear whether Cirrus had been engaging Pete at the time to ensure that he was logged into Silk Road so that agents could grab his open, unencrypted computer as he had with Ulbricht, but the timing was incredibly coincidental.

By the time the revelation became official knowledge, Pete already had his suspicions. Cirrus was the only still-active moderator of the original Silk Road to have escaped arrest. But he was bewildered to discover the real Cirrus’ account had been taken over as far back as July 2013.

“It seems strange to me now knowing that the Scout/Cirrus account was handed off to a HSI undercover,” Pete said, seemingly unable to decide whether to refer to the username as she or he now, “because they continued to mimic the same personality traits of being quite flaky and overly emotional about some of the shenanigans that used to go down on the forums”.

Many on the dark web forums and Reddit blamed Ross Ulbricht for the arrest of Pete and his co-defendants Jones and Davis. Their photo IDs were held unprotected on Ulbricht’s laptop (the computer itself was encrypted, but Ulbricht was arrested while it was open, having been lured by Cirrus to log in to Silk Road’s mastermind panel in a library where undercover agents waited to pounce). Not only were their IDs not held in separately encrypted files, nor were logs of chats and messages that any dark web employee should have the right to assume were never kept. Pete, however, does not lay the blame at his boss’ feet.

“As for Ross leaving my ID in an easy to find folder on his laptop… well I think that just underscores what I just said before about being stupid and reckless,” he said. “I do not blame Ross for my incarceration though. It was my choice to send him my doxx, no one made me do that. Too often people look to blame others for the consequences (unintended or otherwise) of their actions and I am not about that, I take the responsibility for what I did”. That said, he no longer has the unbridled admiration for Dread Pirate Roberts that he once had, saying, “What has come out subsequent to Ross’ arrest and at trial has conflicted me and changed my perceptions of a few things. The OPSEC issues certainly caused me to question a lot”.

What did concern him was reports that the peace-loving libertarian captain of the website he had come to love had ordered six hits, calling for the murders of recalcitrant staff and Silk Road’s greatest ever scammer, Tony76 among others. But like many, he refused to believe the government’s version of events. “As for the murder for hire stuff, well as abhorrent as that may be I will reserve judgment until those allegations have been tested and proven beyond a reasonable doubt” he said.

Despite them being held in the same facility, they have only crossed paths once. Ulbricht was coming out of an elevator and Pete recognised him immediately, thought it took Ulbricht a little longer. “I held my hand out and introduced myself as ‘Peter’ which I had to follow up with ‘(surname)’ before his eyes went wide and the penny dropped,” Pete said. “I just told him I was pleading out the next day and that was it, we literally just passed each other so there was no time to speak, just exchanged pleasantries really”.

He also did not begrudge his co-defendants’ seemingly much better fortune. Jones (Inigo), a US citizen, was given house arrest and faces sentencing in October. Davis (Libertas) has remained a free man in Ireland, but faces his final extradition hearing in July. “Do I feel I have had the rawest deal of the three of us? Part of me does yes,” he said. “Being the lowest ranked person on the indictment and only having a minor role on the discussion forums I have felt mixed emotions at having been the only person to have spent any time in prison. However it is important to remember that each of us has their own journey to navigate here. Jones agreed to do something I was not prepared to [Jones agreed to testify against Ulbricht, but eventually was not called] and Davis still has a process ahead of him where he could potentially be facing an uncertain future. At least I have got on with the process”.

As he awaited his fate, his life in prison revolved around routines. Exercise and reading became his way of coping with the physical and mental challenges of prison, and his cellmate (a Swedish national who was snatched by the FBI in Moldova on cyber crime charges) has taught him chess.

“Having your life dictated to you by for the most part mediocre human beings on a power trip can take it’s toll on even the most patient and tolerant person” he said. “Coming to terms with petty institutional responses and collective punishments is just something you have to get your head around when you are incarcerated. If you allow yourself to become frustrated by the need to make sense and rationalize what is going on around you it can seriously affect your wellbeing in more ways than one”.

Life after prison

As he awaited his sentencing, reading the books bought by money raised by old Silk Road members who hadn’t forgotten the fate of the staff who weren’t receiving all the publicity, Pete reflected on life and what he was missing.

“What I miss most is obviously my liberty, my fiancee, family, friends and the outdoors being in nature,” he said. “The MCC is devoid of colour unless you are into grey and white. We only get roof recreation once every three days for an hour and a half and I long for the day I can be back in nature and look up at the sky and not see it through a wire mesh. Right now I feel like I am simply wishing my days away until this chapter ends so I can start the long process of rebuilding my life”. That includes planning the wedding that was aborted 18 months ago. Peter has remained positive throughout his ordeal.

“As cliche as it may sound I am determined that this situation will not get the better of me and that I will come out of this ordeal a better and mush wiser person,” he said. “I certainly now know what is truly important in this life and I will have a wonderful appreciation of everything when I am released. Just being able to go to the supermarket to buy some decent food is going to be an amazing experience after this.”

I think that food will taste truly sweet now.

Ross Ulbricht is due to be sentenced this Friday. He faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of his natural life.

Silk Road: the shocking true story of the world’s most notorious online drugs market, is available as an e-book at Amazon, in paperback at Australian/NZ bookstores, or see the sidebar for more purchasing options.

Comments
  1. An anonymous reader says:

    Great read, appreciated the article a good lot! Very informative and touching! Also, Nash has definetly won my sympathies, sounds like a great guy!

  2. 72pac says:

    Great story. Love your work ozfreelancer!

  3. Longlivetheking says:

    Incredible read.

  4. creeper says:

    amazing work OzFreelancer. Easily the best thing I have read about the trial (and Silk Road) to date

  5. Jenny Paul says:

    AMAZING NEWS! Please send my very best wishes to Peter for the future – I do hope that it holds nothing but good things. This has given me a real lift this morning to hear he is free. I have a huge smile plastered across my face and will raise a glass to him next time I hit the vino plonkio.

  6. Jenny Paul says:

    PSSST. He ought to sue Wired for calling him ” a coke head dealer” in their stupid 2 part story thing they did on SR.

    • I hate to diss another reporter, but that was some trashy writing right there. But then he got a deal with Fox and I haven’t, so who am I to judge?

      • Jenny Paul says:

        You have the distinction of being awesome sauce though. I’m still very happy all about this and love every word you’ve written above – it is fab reporting :-)))))

  7. I didn't do it says:

    SSBD as I will always remember him was a guide in the darkness, Steering the flock away from bad dealers and dangerous tainted substances, he should have been given a medal.

  8. James Margolin says:

    The government was NOT seeking a sentence of “an extra 10-12 years to add to the 18 months he’s already spent inside.” That’s what the federal sentencing guidelines called for. The prosecution specifically asked for the judge to impose a below-guidelines sentence.

  9. tom says:

    good work! enjoyed reading very much🙂

  10. Larry Finley says:

    Great read, I hope he can keep the positive attitude. Many prayers and thanks to him! –

  11. Zaphod says:

    I don’t think the Americans had any goddamn business whatsoever prosecuting him in the first place, any more than they had going after Richard O’Dwyer of TVShack fame. (O’Dwyer may not have seen any jail time, but he nevertheless had to pay a ‘fine’ amounting to some £20,000 — and this is on top of his legal and other expenses.)

    In the latest absurdity, which even Franz Kafka would not have been able to imagine, we have agents of the United States Department of Justice going into a Swiss hotel, and dragging out foreign nationals in handcuffs for allegedly violating U.S. laws! The rationale for this, at least according to the Washington Post, is as follows:

    “You have U.S. statutes where there are extraterritorial provisions that can reach foreign citizens if they violate certain laws,” Tillipman explained. For most of those laws, there has to be “a jurisdictional hook,” she explained, an aspect of the crime that took place within the United States’ jurisdiction: A phone call that included a person in the United States, for example, or a visit to the country, or, as has happened, an e-mail that passed through a server in the country. “There has to be some sort of touch point for the United States,” Tillipman said.

    — Jessica Tillipman, assistant dean and lecturer at the George Washington University Law School.

    An email that passed through a server in the country?! It’s been estimated that some 80% of all data packets constituting Internet traffic transits the United States at some point. Under this doctrine, the United States has effectively claimed jurisdiction over any ‘crimes’ that involve the Internet, to one degree or another.

    So, here we have a country, amounting to what — 5% of the global population? — effectively imposing its’ laws — which the majority of the global population have no role whatsoever in crafting — on the other 95%.

    The United States is constantly going on about ‘freedom’, while simultaneously boasting the largest prison population on the planet. They talk about freedom and democracy, yet they have a history of overthrowing democratically-elected regimes, and now they have effectively subjected 95% of the global population to their criminal laws, which we did not have a hand in making.

    I don’t get to vote in U.S. elections, and yet they would have me subject to U.S. laws? To hell with that noise! What is especially galling is the fact that this is a one-way street — they get to do it to us, but we don’t get to do it to them, ever. Can you imagine if the roles were reversed. and Swiss cops hauled people out of a hotel in Washington, D.C. for violating Swiss law? Both politicians and public alike would be apoplectic — they would be ready to declare war on Switzerland!

    G.W. Bush famously stated: “They hate us for our freedoms.” As usual, Bush got it wrong. We don’t hate the U.S. its’ freedoms — we hate the U.S. for its’ unbridled arrogance, and unparalleled hypocrisy.

    Zaphod

    • Jenny Paul says:

      Zaphod: Yeah I could NOT believe that. With FIFA, of course, it all boiled down to the US gov’s reasons for going after anyone they can accuse of wrongdoing these days – money.

      • Zaphod says:

        Jenny: There is also no small degree of politics involved, naturally. The United States government is more than a little annoyed that the current head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, had a hand in awarding the FIFA World Cup to Russia in 2018.

        Given that Vladimir Putin is the current American bête noire, they would like nothing more than to see Blatter’s rival for the Presidency, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, be elected in Blatter’s stead. Ali bin Al-Hussein, the third son of Jordan’s King Hussein, would be far more pleasing to the U.S. government, given Jordan’s status as an American client state.

        Furthermore, the arrested officials are alleged to have taken bribes from politicians; many have questioned why, precisely, the Obama DOJ is going after these men while, at the same time, the banksters who crashed the global economy will never see as much as 5 minutes behind bars.

        Someone explained it this way:

        The FIFA officials took money from politicians; the Wall Street banksters, in contrast, gave money to politicians (or their political action committees (PACs)). Buying politicians is one of the best investments the wealthy can make — it essentially grants them immunity from prosecution. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, was being picketed by Occupy Wall Street — his response was to donate the sum of $5 million to the NYC Patrolman’s Benevolent Fund. After making that donation, the NYC police cracked down hard on the Occupy movement.

        To me, this just underscores the corrupt nature of the United States where, with enough money, one can purchase damn near anything just the same as in a Banana Republic.

  12. […] Silk Road from the inside: Moderator SSBD tells his story […]

  13. […] days ago, he was released from prison when a judge decided that he had already served enough time. Nash has now spoken out about his experiences. So today, we’ll chat about how he got caught, what his life was like behind bars, how he feels […]

  14. […] został wczoraj skazany na zaledwie 10 lat więzienia, a z kolei moderator forum serwisu, SSBD, został zwolniony po spędzeniu 18 miesięcy w australijskim i amerykańskim […]

  15. […] I’ve been following the Silk Road story a little closer than I normally would, and I found this – an interview with SSBD (SameSameButDifferent, a moderator on the site), an Australian bloke […]

  16. Steve says:

    Great story. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the topic and the cirrus angle is fascinating. Who was she? Was she never arrested? How did the UC emulate her so well?

  17. Sandy says:

    Peter Nash will never have my sympathy – he should be sentenced to more time.

    • Zaphod says:

      Sandy says:
      June 1, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Peter Nash will never have my sympathy – he should be sentenced to more time.

      Nash should have got more time? For what, for moderating a discussion forum? So, you feel that it was perfectly acceptable to take a man into custody, transport him half-way around the world, and jail him for year son end, for moderating a discussion forum?

      The arrogance of some Americans is almost literally beyond belief!

      If Peter Nash should have been prosecuted by anyone, it should have been the Australian authorities. U.S. law should stop at the U.S. border, yet it would appear that your authorities seem to believe that U.S. law applies to virtually everyone on the planet! It is without a doubt that they transferred Mr. Nash half way around the world to face ‘justice’ in an American court for breaking American law, when he had (to my knowledge) never so much as set foot in the United States.

      I don’t live in the United States, and I don’t care a whit about U.S. law.

      If I remember correctly, Eileen did some research on the Australia-United States extradition treaty, and the treaty seems to have been designed to deal with the return of Americans, fugitives from justice in their own country, taking refuge in Australia. This was most certainly NOT the case here.

      The treaty, instead, has been used (and abused) to essentially subject Australian citizens to American laws. Much the same nonsense has been tried on Britons as well (e.g. Richard O’Dwyer of TVShack fame).

      It’s incidents like this one, that cause many of us outside America to despise the U.S. and all it stands for. If America sees fit to imprison its citizens at a rate higher than any other country (including more than a few dictatorships) that’s your prerogative.

      It’s quite another when you effectively extend U.S. laws outside of your own borders, and attempt to subject the entire global population to your criminal justice system.

      Zaphod

  18. […] 4. Silk Road from the inside: Moderator SSBD tells his story | All Things VICE […]

  19. Sandy says:

    It was a US case and he broke US laws – I am not even certain that Peter is an Australian Citizen, when I knew him he was a resident, he could have become a citizen but who knows.

    He was a moderator of a global website that trafficked drugs around the world. You make it sound like he was a moderator of something legal like ebay – it was drugs, he actively participated in drug trafficking. He traded drugs over the internet and I know for a fact that even before this he smuggled drugs into Australia time and time again, I saw it happen with my own eyes.

    He is not a hero, he deserves no sympathy.

    He actively participated in trafficking drugs around the world. No sympathy from me.

    • Zaphod says:

      Sandy says:
      June 2, 2015 at 8:15 am

      It was a US case and he broke US laws

      So, tell me then… do US laws apply in Australia? Do you consider yourself subject to US laws, then?

      I am not even certain that Peter is an Australian Citizen, when I knew him he was a resident, he could have become a citizen but who knows.

      Point taken.

      He was a moderator of a global website that trafficked drugs around the world. You make it sound like he was a moderator of something legal like ebay

      Nash was a moderator of the Silk Road discussion Forum; no drugs were sold on the Forum. Nash had no role whatsoever in the running of the market site; this was even acknowledged by the prosecution.

      … it was drugs, he actively participated in drug trafficking. He traded drugs over the internet and I know for a fact that even before this he smuggled drugs into Australia time and time again, I saw it happen with my own eyes.

      There is no doubt whatsoever that he ordered illegal drugs off of Silk Road; Nash has freely admitted to this. I contend that it was (and is) the duty of the Australian authorities to prosecute him for these acts, and most certainly NOT the duty of the American government.

      He is not a hero, he deserves no sympathy.

      He actively participated in trafficking drugs around the world. No sympathy from me.

      Nash was targeted in large part because he was a moderator of a discussion Forum; moderating a discussion Forum should NOT be a crime, for which one can be Shanghaied halfway around the world. If the Australian authorities wished to punish Nash for importing contraband, it is entirely within their rights to do so. My primary beef is, and always has been, with the extraterritorial application of American criminal laws.

      Zaphod

  20. Sandy says:

    Plus he actually chose to be extradited – he had options and rights which he gave up and actively chose the extradition.

    • Zaphod says:

      Sandy says:
      June 2, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Plus he actually chose to be extradited – he had options and rights which he gave up and actively chose the extradition.

      He had options and rights, did he? Glad you think so. The reason that Nash chose not to contest his extradition to the United States was largely due to that of an earlier case, that of Hew Griffiths. A quirk of the Australian extradition statute almost inevitably leaves someone who wishes to contest extradition behind bars while the process proceeds. In almost every case, extradition usually results anyway, whether it is contested or not.

      The Wikipedia page on Hew Griffiths summarises his case quite nicely:

      Hew Raymond Griffiths (born 8 November 1962 in the UK) has been accused by the United States of being a ring leader of DrinkOrDie or DOD, an underground software piracy network. Griffiths was living in Berkeley Vale in the Central Coast Region of NSW, Australia before he was placed on remand at Silverwater Correctional Centre. After fighting extradition for almost 3 years, Griffiths was finally extradited from Australia to the United States and on 20 February 2007, he appeared before Magistrate Judge Barry R. Portez of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. On 20 April, it was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice that Griffiths had entered a plea of guilty.

      His case is of interest in that he is an Australian resident who has been indicted by a court in Virginia for copyright infringement and conspiracy to infringe copyright under the US Code. Hew Raymond Griffiths, born in the United Kingdom, had never at any point physically left Australia since arriving in his adopted country at an early age. This is an unusual situation as the US extradition has not targeted a fugitive or a dangerous person who financially profited from his activities. However, the Australian courts and executive government have agreed to treat Griffiths’ activities as having taken place in US jurisdiction. The case therefore highlights the serious consequences for Australian internet users who are charged with pirating US copyright-protected material.

      Griffiths’ extradition was very controversial in Australia. The matter of U.S.A. v Griffiths has been cited as an example of how bilateral arrangements can lead to undesirable effects such as a loss of sovereignty and the introduction of draconian measures.

      Tell me… have you ever downloaded one or more episodes of say, Game of Thrones?

      If so, how would you feel if, as a result, you were indicted by an American Grand Jury for criminal copyright infringement, and extradited to the United States to face trial for this ‘crime’?

      Zaphod

      • Zaphod, your comments over the past few days have been insightful and intelligent. I haven’t replied to any of them because I felt it would be a disservice not to post something equally insightful and intelligent. But I’ve come up with nada but “I agree”.

        Thanks for taking the time🙂

  21. Sandy says:

    You’re actually condoning what he did … comparing drugs to downloading illegally (which btw I wouldn’t even know how to do).

    You are completely deluded if you think that what he did was ok, and that he shouldn’t have been punished.

    • Peter Nash says:

      Against my better judgement I have to ask, why do you care Sandy? for someone who claims to know me you certainly are not any friend of mine so I am left wondering who you are and why you feel such animosity towards me.

      Regardless of your personal feelings about me as a person or what you perceive that I did I have served my time and am looking forward to moving forward with my life.

      • Zaphod says:

        Peter Nash says:
        June 10, 2015 at 5:26 am

        Against my better judgement I have to ask, why do you care Sandy? for someone who claims to know me you certainly are not any friend of mine so I am left wondering who you are and why you feel such animosity towards me.

        She also seems to have totally missed the point(s) I have been attempting to make, i.e. that if anyone was to prosecute you, it should have been the Australian authorities. The Americans had no damn business hauling you half-way around the planet to face one of their Kangaroo courts. Their apparent views, as to what gives them jurisdiction, means that literally anyone on the planet can be hauled-off to face ‘justice’ in an American courtroom.

        Regardless of your personal feelings about me as a person or what you perceive that I did I have served my time and am looking forward to moving forward with my life.

        Hear, hear.

        Peter, why don’t you drop me a line? I’d like to chat. You can get my email address from Eiley.

  22. Hi Sandy,

    You may wish to have a look at the results of the latest Global Drug survey, which show that more people than ever are turning to online markets like Silk Road to buy their drugs. The reasons they do so are it is safer in every single way than buying drugs face-to-face, whether from friends, dealers or strangers in the street.

    Have a look here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/datablog/2015/jun/08/global-drug-survey-2015-buy-online-darknet-silk-road

    The Global Drug Survey also makes it very clear that prohibition is not working. Young people are not going to stop buying and using drugs simply because they are illegal. However they are seeking ways to make their drug use safer, and online purchasing is one of the ways they are doing so.

    See also here: http://www.smh.com.au/national/why-online-shopping-for-drugs-is-seen-as-a-safer-option-20150607-ghii15.html

    In this case, the punishment was more than adequate for the crime.

  23. CM says:

    I only knew Peter slightly and lay no claim to being a friend, more of an acquaintance but I was saddened to read his plight. I don’t condone drugs but I also don’t think locking someone up for months on end because they moderated a forum is a fair punishment either. I also don’t believe in judging someone where I don’t know the full story – which I don’t and I doubt I ever will. I also don’t believe in judging someone only on their mistakes and not looking at the good things they have also done – which I know Peter has done some very good things in his life also. I hope that Peter finds peace and that he can move forward with his life. I send my thoughts and best wishes to him and his family during what is no doubt an ongoing difficult time as he adjusts back into society.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Well, I some how ended up here while having my morning coffee. This was a very interesting read. I was not aware of Silk Road until now. Great job Ozfreelancer.

    Btw, I’m from U.S and can relate to some of the sentiments regarding our judicial system; and from what I’ve read – agree that Peter more then served his time for his involvement.

  25. A grilled-cheese sandwich of a thriller, The Gift slaps a slice of Jason Bateman in the middle of a white bread story and throws him in the skillet until he … starts to melt.

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