UK & World News
Silk Road Accused Denies Running 'Drugs Ebay'
The alleged mastermind behind an online black market used to peddle drugs and hitmen has denied running the website in court.
Through an attorney, 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht denied charges that he operated an encrypted website where users could anonymously shop for drugs such as heroin and LSD.
"We deny all charges. That's the end of the discussion," said federal public defender Brandon LeBlanc.
US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero granted Mr LeBlanc's request to postpone the hearing given the complexity of the case.
Another appearance has been scheduled for October 9.
Ulbricht has been charged in New York with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering in connection with the website known as Silk Road, which is believed to have collected more than $1bn in revenue.
He is also charged in Maryland with arranging to pay someone to kill a witness.
FBI agents arrested Ulbricht - allegedly known online as Dread Pirate Roberts - on Tuesday in the science fiction section of a small branch of the San Francisco public library, where he was chatting online.
The arrest came after a federal investigation that began in 2011.
Agents said they determined Ulbricht was "altoid" - someone who was posting information about Silk Road on other drug-related websites under federal surveillance.
Since then, Ulbricht's online behaviour had been tracked, and agents slowly gathered evidence that allegedly connected him to Silk Road.
The website, dubbed the eBay of the drug trade, used a privacy-protecting Tor network and the Bitcoin digital currency to shield the identities of buyers and sellers around the world.
Authorities seized approximately $3.6m (£2.2m) worth of Bitcoins - the largest-ever seizure of the currency.
FBI agent Christopher Tarbell said Silk Road was used by "several thousand drug dealers" to sell "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs".
The website allowed users to anonymously browse through nearly 13,000 listings under categories such as "cannabis", ''psychedelics" and "stimulants", "erotica", "forgeries" and "fireworks".
If convicted, Ulbricht could be sentenced to life in prison.