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Alleged Silk Road Chief Can’t Suppress Evidence

MANHATTAN (CN) - The man believed to have created the Silk Road website claimed that the charges in his indictment stemmed from an illegal search.

Ulbricht was charged in February with narcotics trafficking, conspiracy, running a criminal enterprise, conspiring to aid and abet computer hacking, money laundering, and conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identity documents. He is to go to trial on Nov. 10.

The federal government in July 2013 probed the website's servers in Iceland, whose robust civil libertarian protections once provided a haven for WikiLeaks.

The search buttressed charges against its alleged founder Ross Ulbricht, who insisted that Uncle Sam did not have a warrant when it gleaned virtually all the evidence against him.

In a Friday ruling, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ridiculed his motion to suppress the fruits of this search.

Ulbricht "has not asserted a violation of the Fifth Amendment - nor could he," Forrest wrote.

His "fatally deficient motion to suppress" has "failed to submit anything establishing that he has a personal privacy interest in the Icelandic server or any of the other items imaged and/or searched and/or seized," Forrest wrote.

Forrest acknowledged that Ulbricht had a privacy interest in the "colloquial sense," that the search led to seven charges of "serious crimes," but she said the Supreme Court's standard calls for him to have an interest in the server itself.

Ulbricht has not acknowledged his role in Silk Road.

"The requirement to establish a personal privacy interest might appear to place Ulbricht in a Catch-22: if the government must prove any connection between himself and Silk Road, requiring him to concede such a connection to establish his standing the searches and seizures at issue could be perceived as unfair," Forrest wrote.

Ulbricht's reputation is as fiercely debated as his alleged creation.

Prosecutors call him the man behind the pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts," and said he hired a hit man to kill a Silk Road user who threatened to release the identities of thousands of other customers.

Ulbricht, who is not charged with murder in New York, was previously indicted in Maryland for murder-for-hire allegations.

Ulbricht's lawyer tried to strike these allegations as extraneous "surplusage," a legal term for inflammatory allegations that are irrelevant to an indictment.

Forrest said she would hear the government's evidence at trial before ruling on this motion.

She rejected Ulbricht's motion to force the government to specify its allegations in a bill of particulars.

Ulbricht's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While prosecutors describe Silk Road as "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet," digital privacy advocates from the Electronic Frontier Foundation defended it as a tool of online privacy.

Ulbricht also went by the handles "Dread Pirate Roberts" and "DPR."

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