Australia May Extradite Alleged Silk Road Moderator to US

Daniel Cawrey
Mar 20, 2014 at 00:08 UTC
Updated Aug 20, 2014 at 17:24 UTC

An Australian man prosecutors allege was one of the moderators of now-defunct online black market Silk Road will likely be sent to the United States for trial soon.

Peter Phillip Nash, a former prison employee in Wacol, Queensland, is said to have operated via nicknames that included “Batman73” and “Samesamebutdifferent”, on the notorious illicit goods marketplace that boasted an estimated $22m in annual sales.

If the charges are true, Nash was one of the key actors working on Silk Road.

According to the US District Court Southern District of New York indictment from December 2013, his role in the black marketplace was to:

“[Provide] guidance to forum users concerning how to conduct business on Silk Road, and [report] any significant problems discussed on the forum to the site administrators and Ulbricht.”

Nash, 41, waived his extradition rights on Wednesday in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, according to a report from the Australian Associated Press.

He faces prosecution on narcotics and computer hacking charges in the US.

The accused

The case of Peter Phillip Nash is one of  many associated with Silk Road’s demise and subsequent legal proceedings. Four alleged UK users of the site were detained soon after the seizure and arrest of Ulbricht.

Two other people accused of working for Silk Road have been charged with the same narcotics and computer hacking crimes as Nash. Andrew Michael Jones, 24, of Virginia, and Gary Davis, of Ireland are also included in the indictment along with Nash.

Charlie Shrem, co-founder of BitInstant, is perhaps the most notable bitcoin industry figure arrested in connection with Silk Road activities. He is being charged, along with conspirator Robert M. Faiella, with conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

US prosecution continues

Now that Nash has waived his extradition rights, he is one step closer to being sent to the United States. The Queensland attorney general, however, needs to approve the process of Nash going to the US to await trial.

In February, Silk Road’s alleged mastermind Ross Ulbricht, known as ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ was indicted on charges related to computer hacking, drugs and money laundering.

Ross Ulbricht was originally arrested in October 2013 and the Silk Road site was seized and taken down by the FBI at that time. Nash had apparently been working with Ulbricht since early 2013, moderating Silk Road’s discussion forums.

Silk Road depended on two new digital technologies in order to facilitate illegal trade. One was Tor, a proxy service that anonymizes its users. The other was bitcoin, although its psuedononymous nature meant that the FBI used it in order to coordinate sting buys, gathering information on criminal activity.

Bitcoin prices hit a high at the end of 2013 after Silk Road closure. Source: CoinDesk BPI

Bitcoin prices hit a high at the end of 2013 after Silk Road’s closure. Source: CoinDesk BPI

Defense

A number of people have been supporting the cases of those accused of being involved in Silk Road’s impropriety.

Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of Ross Ulbricht has recently been trying to raise funds for her son’s defense. Friends and family raised $1m in bail for Ulbricht last year.

However, US Magistrate Judge Kevin Fox decided to turn down the bail request last November.

A defense fund for Charlie Shrem has also reportedly been set up.

Shrem is currently free on $1m bail and is under house arrest. He faces a lengthy legal road defending alleged Silk Road deeds, much like that of Peter Phillip Nash.

Perth Supreme Court via Shutterstock