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Indictment made public in historic hacker case

The Swedish co-founder of Pirate Bay has been in Danish custody since November. His court appearances have been behind closed doors, but thanks to a freedom of information request, the charges against are finally made known.

Indictment made public in historic hacker case
Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg will face trial in September. Photo: Simon Klose/WikiCommons
Swedish hacker Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has sat in a Danish prison since November. His court appearances have taken place behind closed doors and his mother and a legion of online supporters have argued that he has been treated unfairly while in custody. 
 
The co-founder of the online file-sharing service Pirate Bay, Warg and an unnamed 20-year-old Danish defendant are accused of stealing social security numbers from Denmark’s driving licence database, illegally accessing information in a Schengen Region database and hacking into police email accounts. 
 
Although the hacking case represents the largest of its kind in Danish history, the closed-door thus far has meant that details have been hard to come by. 
 
But now, the Ritzau news agency has gained access to the prosecution’s indictment through a freedom of information act. 
 
According to the indictment, Warg and his Danish accomplice had four months of access to the IT firm CSC’s database, and used that time to gather has much information from official public registries as possible. 
 
The two men are being officially charged with disrupting information systems, obtaining trade secrets and causing malicious damage. 
 
All three charges can be punishable by up to six years in prison, but the senior prosecutor in the case has said she will pursue a four-year sentence for both defendants. 
 
Warg was extradited from Sweden, where he was serving a one-year sentence for hacking into a public database there, in November. Since his time in Danish custody, his supporters have criticised his treatment, which included keeping him isolated and without access to reading material. Speaking to The Local in December, his mother Kristina Svartholm Warg likened his imprisonment to "torture".
 
"He's in isolation and he's only allowed to interact with prisoners for two hours a week. He is being treated as if he is dangerous. You can't do this to a person – it's torture," she said. "He should be treated decently until he is in court, and this is not decent."
 
Following Kristina Svartholm's complaints, her son was allowed reading material and more interaction with other inmates.

 
Warg and his codefendant will finally face trial in Frederiksberg Court on September 2nd, nearly ten months after he was extradited from Sweden. 

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HACKER

Denmark like a ‘banana republic’ in hacker case

Activist and writer Peter Kofod argues that the trial of Swedish Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg represented a total failure on the part of the Danish police and legal system.

Denmark like a 'banana republic' in hacker case
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, but has appealed the decision. Photo: Bertil Ericson/Scanpix
Swedish Pirate Bay Founder (and WikiLeaks-volunteer) Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, also known as Anakata, and a young Danish computer specialist were convicted on Thursday in what has been called the biggest hacking attack in Danish history. The two young men are charged with hacking the US-based company CSC, which contracts for the Danish state. CSC, among other things, is supposed to handle highly sensitive data about citizens in Denmark: social security numbers, driving licences and the database containing information about European Arrest Warrants. 
 
Both suspects have been held in remand under miserable and highly problematic conditions since 2013. Prior to his arrest, Anakata was dragged through a very similar case in Sweden, in which he was found not guilty of hacking into Nordea. 
 
 
What happened in court on Thursday was a full frontal assault on Denmark as a country with a rule of law. Two individuals were convicted of serious crimes without a shred of evidence of their guilt being presented in court. At this point I should clarify: I’m NOT saying they’re innocent – or that they’re guilty. I have no way of knowing and in principle it doesn’t matter at all. What’s important is, that NOBODY can know, because no evidence has been presented proving that they are guilty as charged. We’re in banana republic territory here. 
 
For instance, the leading judge said in court that when it came to the most crucial technical detail in the case – Anakata’s claim that his computer was remotely accessed – the defendant couldn’t prove his innocence. That’s absolutely insane. People aren’t supposed to have to prove their innocence. In a civilised country, people can be convicted if – and only if – the prosecution is able to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they are guilty. That simply didn’t happen here in Denmark on Thursday. 
 
Somehow they nevertheless got away with it, perhaps because the case is of a technical nature (hacking, remote access and other geeky stuff) and because the case has been framed so as to show that the defendants are a couple of nasty bastards. Both matters naturally should be of no consequence. It doesn’t matter if a case is highly technical – or if the defendants are paedophiles, Nazis or communists. One should still have the right to a fair trial. In this case, the two defendants simply didn’t get that. 

Instead we’ve seen police and prosecution lie to parliament about hugely important matters in the case. 
 
 

We’ve seen the police lie to the judge in court (minutes after being told that they had the duty to tell the truth). They even got caught lying, but suffered no consequences at all.
We’ve also seen that CSC, which is getting rich taking care of all of our sensitive data, has been so extremely poor at securing their systems (or so indifferent) that a bunch of monkeys with typewriters would’ve been able to do a better job. In short: it didn’t take a ‘super hacker’ to get access to the systems.
 

Whatever else is true in this shameful show trial, one thing is crystal clear: CSC should be facing prosecutions as well. And they will. 

Finally we’ve seen that the Danish police were awfully negligent in investigating what everybody in Denmark says is the most important case of its kind ever:  They sat on their hands for eight months after Swedish police told them that CSC was being hacked and begged them to take action. Afterwards the Danish police lied to parliament and the court about it. They also let CSC investigate the crime instead of doing it themselves. The same CSC that is a key part to the case. The same CSC that has everything to hide because the company would love to extend its lucrative contracts with the Danish state. When was the last time a private company was allowed to investigate themselves? It’s absurd!
 
 


If I call the police and claim that my neighbour killed my wife, I don’t think the police will rely exclusively on my version of events. I certainly don’t hope so. I’d want them to first of all check IF my wife is indeed dead. If she is, hopefully they’ll investigate all leads, both those pointing to our neighbour as the perpetrator and those pointing towards other suspects (including myself).  
 
But that hasn’t happened in this ‘trial of century’. Instead the company has investigated their own systems while the police lied through their teeth and refused to look at anything relevant to the case except for the bits and pieces that could incriminate the two suspects. 
 
This is a full blown scandal – and it’s really, really important that the media, international as well as Danish, begin treating it as such. This IS a full frontal attack on the rule of law. Next time, the case might not be highly technical – and the suspects might not be people that can be considered weird, nasty bastards. Then we’re all fucked. 
 
Peter Kofod is a Danish writer, activist & musician.
 He was the first – and so far only – Scandinavian to interview NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
 Peter is currently writing his first book. 
You can follow him on Twitter at @peterkofod 
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