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Accused Silk Road boss just hired a high-profile national security lawyer

Accused Silk Road boss just hired a high-profile national security lawyer

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Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of running Silk Road.

Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of running the underground drug website Silk Road, has finally hired an attorney to represent him on charges of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and computer hacking conspiracy. Ulbricht was represented by a public defender at first, but friends and family have managed to find a hotshot lawyer to take the case: Joshua Dratel, a New York-based attorney who has built his career on cases related to national security.

Dratel has defended more than 30 accused terrorists, including David Hicks, an Australian who was arrested in Afghanistan and detained at Guantanamo. He also represented an accountant convicted of working with al-Qaeda and one of the men charged with the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa. His background defending some of the most unsympathetic targets of government prosecution, along with his strong belief in personal freedom and opposition to the security state, made him a natural choice for Ulbricht's defense.

Dratel has defended more than 30 accused terrorists

Reached by The Verge this morning, Dratel says he has not spoken to his client yet. Ulbricht is still sitting in jail in San Francisco waiting to be transferred to New York, where the major charges against him have been filed. No court dates have been set yet. Dratel is unsure of whether he will also defend Ulbricht on separate charges filed in Maryland, which are expected to be tried next. In court in San Francisco, Ulbricht denied that he was the Dread Pirate Roberts, Silk Road's pseudonymous owner-operator.

"It's too early to really start piecing together," Dratel says. "Other than that he's not guilty."