Supporters gather outside as jury selection begins for purported 'Silk Road' founder

Associated Press

Jury selection is underway in the New York trial of a San Francisco man accused of running an underground website where authorities say cocaine, heroin and other drugs were sold.

Ross William Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran the Silk Road website. About a dozen protesters supporting Ulbricht stood outside the Manhattan federal courthouse Tuesday. One held a sign that read: "Web Hosting is not a crime!"

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Prosecutors say they plan to introduce evidence that Ulbricht tried to hire hit men to protect his business.

Ulbricht disputes that he operated online under the alias "Dread Pirate Roberts." That's a reference to a swashbuckling character in the book and movie "The Princess Bride."

He also is charged in Baltimore federal court in an attempted murder-for-hire scheme.