Ross Ulbricht, the convicted mastermind behind the infamous Silk Road website, has been sentenced to life in prison by a Manhattan judge.
Silk Road was an online black market where users could anonymously buy drugs, weapons and other illegal goods.
In addition to his prison sentence, Ulbricht has been ordered to pay a massive restitution of more than $183 million.
“The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the Dread Pirate Roberts,” Judge Katherine Forrest told Ulbricht as reported by Wired.
“Silk Road’s birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous.”
The defence claimed that Ulbricht started Silk Road as an economic experiment, but handed it off to others after a few months. However he was lured back to the site to be set up as a fall guy when prosecutors were closing in.
Vice News reported that Ulbricht’s family is planning to appeal the sentencing.
Limited global stocks of two anti-malarial drugs could wreck plans to use the medicines, currently in clinical trials, to treat COVID-19, doctors cautioned on Thursday. This is the latest health news.
Around the world, countries are expanding access to chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which are used to treat malaria and are known to have anti-viral properties.
The medicines have shown early promise against the COVID-19 illness in studies in France and China.
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CQ, which is the less toxic of the two, is also used as an anti-inflammatory to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, purposes it is primarily known for outside the tropics.
Writing in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, doctors in Italy — the country hardest hit by COVID-19 — said that limited supply could scupper any widespread attempt to use the two drugs against the virus.
“In some European countries the availability of HCQ and CQ in the pharmacies (outside the hospitals) is already scarce,” Francesca Romana Spinelli, assistant professor at the Sapienza University of Rome and letter author, told AFP.
“This is an emerging problem for many patients already treated with CQ/HCQ for their autoimmune rheumatic disease.”
Both medicines are known to have anti-viral properties and have shown some encouraging results in trials against COVID-19.
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But they have a number of potentially serious side effects, and there are fears that treating COVID-19 patients, many of whom are on medication for underlying conditions, could court disaster.
On Wednesday the European Medicine Agency warned that CQ and HCQ should only be used on COVID-19 patients in clinical trials or in case of a “national emergency”.
In the letter, Italian doctors said using CQ and HCQ as widespread COVID-19 treatments would raise ethical concerns, given their known side effects.
“If mass prophylaxis was accepted as an option worldwide, this would raise the question of whether there is enough supply of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to support this approach,” they added. (VOA)