A confirmed government-induced attack on the Tor network has come up during court hearings of the case of the Darknet black market Silk Road 2.0.

Silk Road 2.0, opened in November 2013 after the closure of the original Silk Road, operated on the Tor network in order to mask Internet Protocol addresses of its users. However, the key administrator of the website under the alias of “DoctorClu” was identified after the authorities got hold of his residential IP address. According to US prosecutors, the alias was used by 26-year-old Brian Farrell.

Since July 2014 when the Department of Homeland Security received the “lead” on Farrell's IP address, the source of this finding remained undisclosed. The recent denial by Judge Richard Jones of the Western District of Washington of a motion to compel introduced by Brian Farrell’s attorneys, confirms the collusion between the FBI and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that conducted surveillance of Farrell's residential address before he was arrested in January 2015. In connection with the case, critics started to point at the US government's selective approach to domestic law enforcement cases.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that Shaun W. Bridges, ex-secret service agent, stole more money than it was thought over the period he was on duty as a US government investigator of the original Silk Road case. Now the prosecutors believe that Bridges may have been connected to additional, previously undisclosed cases of authority abuse. This information was published in the negative response of the US Maryland district court to the Bridges’ motion seeking a detention hearing.

“...The US had recently become aware of additional thefts of bitcoins from Secret Service accounts, the facts of which led the government to believe that Bridges, working with others, was also involved in these thefts.”

Moreover, the Court rejected Bridges motion for unsealing the search and seizure warrants used by the prosecutors for his arrest, explaining that the revealed information could alert additional suspects of the investigation.

On 7 December 2015 Shaun W. Bridges pleaded guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice and theft of more than $800,000 in BTC. He was sentenced to six years of prison and has to repay the amount stolen. Bridges was scheduled to begin his term in prison on 29 January, however, he was arrested the day before, on 28 January, on suspicion that he was seeking the ways to flee the country.  

Anna Lavinskaya