“I’m Back, Bitches”: Busted NinjaVideo Founder Freed From Prison

After being sent to prison early 2012 for running NinjaVideo, the first site to fall victim to the U.S. Government's 'Operation in Our Sites', founder Hana 'Phara' Beshara is now back in society. Fresh from peeling potatoes for 12 cents an hour and learning how to knit, the self-styled 'queen' of Ninja is living at a halfway house and thinking about how she's going to pay $210,000 damages to the MPAA. Maybe an MTV documentary and reality shows hold the key...

In early 2010 US-based NinjaVideo was one of the biggest unauthorized movie streaming portals around but just a few months later its progress would come to an abrupt and dramatic halt.

As part of Operation in Our Sites the U.S. Government were watching NinjaVideo and had approached Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload to retain evidence that Ninja staff had uploaded copyrighted videos to his now-defunct file-hosting service. Megaupload cooperated with the investigation, something which would later come back to bite them.

At the end of June 2010 the authorities carried out a raid on Ninja and eight other domains. Five people connected to NinjaVideo were arrested and in September 2011 they were indicted by a federal grand jury.

One of those indicted was site co-founder Hana Beshara. Known online by her pseudonym Phara and referred to by NinjaVideo members as their “Queen”, Beshara pleaded guilty and was subsequently sentenced to 22 months in prison.

This week TorrentFreak received a message from Candeelion, one of Phara’s closest friends. Phara is free once again and for those familiar with her previously outspoken and extroverted character, be assured that very little has changed. Being crammed into a prison with 250 other women “overflowing with estrogen” hasn’t calmed her in the slightest.

“WORD, I AM OUT OF PRISON! Oh man, I’m smiling like a fool here on this computer,” Phara begins. “You cannot possibly imagine how good it feels to be online again.”

Phara has also revealed a few details about her life in prison. Her new life was understandably not as stimulating as running NinjaVideo and her early days in confinement were marked by depression. However, Phara eventually got a job. For the first few months she peeled potatoes but at 12 cents an hour was never going to get rich.

Looking to do something more positive and avoid the manual labor, Phara successfully applied to do college classes. She appears to have found it amusing that the “small business” classes were a step down from running the Ninja operation she was used to.

A subsequent suggestion to other inmates that they begin studying current affairs apparently didn’t go down particularly well but she did end up leading a couple of jewelery-making classes. She also picked up a few skills herself, such as learning to knit and crochet. She can now also make cheesecake.

Phara is currently at a halfway house in Newark where she’ll remain until mid-June when she reports to house arrest.

“The house arrest will continue until the 22 months of the sentence are completed which I believe is in September. Then she must start her two years of supervised release,” Candee told TorrentFreak.

“This puts her fate into the hands of the Parole officer that she’s assigned to because if she
does not do the court mandated counseling and community service she could go back to prison for an undetermined amount of time.”

Phara must also get clearance to speak with the other defendants in the NinjaVideo case, although has made it clear that she’s only interested in speaking with two of them. She says that herself aside, Joshua Evans (known online as Wadswerth) and Jeremy Andrew (known online as htrdfrk) were the only defendants who refused to cooperate with the authorities.

As she gets her life in order, Phara also has to find a way to clear a huge debt. The Ninja founder owes the MPAA almost $210,000 in damages, but doesn’t want to pay them directly.

“Phara plans on petitioning the courts to allow her to pay back the film creators instead of the MPAA but is still waiting to speak with counsel on that move,” Candee explains.

But of course, Phara still needs to raise the money. Candee says that numerous options are being mulled, including appearing on the reality show The Amazing Race. MTV’s True Life have already approached Phara and she’s currently waiting to hear if they are interested in doing a “halfway house” edition of the show.

Finally, Phara is grateful to everyone who took the time to support her during her ordeal.

“Thank you to everyone that wrote and emailed and even put money on my books while I was locked up. You guys are wonderful,” she says. “I’m on home detention as of late June and out of Bureau of Prison custody in early September. Then two years of Supervised Release, which seems like some new-fangled way of saying Parole. Gotta stay out of trouble.”

Is this the last we’ll hear of Phara? Somehow we doubt it.

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