It’s been a long time in the making but this week the trial of Gottfrid Svartholm finally got underway in Denmark. The Swede and a still-unnamed 21-year-old co-defendant stand accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC in what’s being described as the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.
The trial began on Tuesday but after less than 25 minutes proceedings had to be halted after the prosecution submitted a 27-page document and 92 slides that the defense claimed not to have seen before. Michael Juul Eriksen, defending the 21-year-old, complained but deputy public prosecutor Anders Riisager said there was no obligation to provide all documents up front.
On top of the surprise documentation, the prosecution also provided a never-seen-before video recorded by police when Gottfrid was arrested in Cambodia during 2012. It reportedly showed the Swede’s apartment messy and turned upside down. Gottfrid’s defense lawyer Luise Høj branded the video as “irrelevant” and this start to proceedings didn’t impress Gottfrid’s mother Kristina either.
“Such efforts to disorder the defense and affect the jury are, in my opinion, unworthy of a civilized court process,” Kristina told TF.
“I guess I am very naive in this, but I think that representatives of the community should behave better than that – justice should be considered more important and be paid more respect to than in the way that the prosecutor behaved to begin with that first day. But maybe Denmark has its own ethics in this respect.”
In presenting the case, senior prosecutor Maria Cingali referred to chat logs that took place between two hackers – one allegedly Gottfrid (My Evil Twin) and the other the 21-year-old (Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat). A report in The Local said the logs not only contained chats discussing the hacking of CSC’s database, but also personal details that correspond with those of the 21-year-old.
Speaking to the court on Wednesday, Gottfrid continued with the same defense strategy employed in his Swedish case – that third parties had access to his computer and carried out the hacking from there. The 29-year-old also revealed that he’d previously given the police four other nicknames of individuals who had access to his computer. Eraser, Nohyb, RBL and Ripley were reportedly known online as The Lattice Team but Anders Riisager wanted their real names – Gottfrid refused.
“I do not want be called a traitor or a snitch,” he said, going on to criticize the efforts of the prosecution in finding the potential culprits.
“The motivation to investigate has been equal to zero,” he added, pointing out that the Danish authorities had been in possession of these names since 2013.
“There has been every opportunity to find out their names. You have had more than a year to do so,” Gottfrid noted.
In his cross-examination, Riisager invited Gottfrid to comment on an article published on Cambodian forum Khmer440 in 2012 which claimed that the Swede was “messed up on drugs” and “a total recluse” who made contact only with “his dealers and landlord.”
The Swede reacted unfavorably, accusing the prosecution of trying to “smear” him. Someone who shares opposition to these allegations is ‘John’, Gottfrid’s former business partner as revealed in our earlier article. He’s outraged that the prosecution has used information penned by someone with “a grudge” against Gottfrid.
“I should inform you that Khmer440 has accepted that many of the allegations posted about me and Gottfrid were false and defamatory. I have it in writing (the term they used was ‘scurrilous’,” John wrote in an email yesterday to Jens Jorgensen of the Danish police.
“The fact that you have quoted these libelous, provably false accusations written by a man who you know to have a grudge against Gottfrid (and I know that you know, because I personally told you about it during our meeting, and watched you take notes) is absolutely sickening. I can’t imagine what on earth possessed you to do such a thing.”
Did the prosecution edit evidence?
Something else bothering the defense is the authenticity of chat logs provided to the court. The names “Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat” and “My Evil Twin” were seen in chat logs provided by the prosecution yet on Internet Relay Chat, where the chats allegedly took place, names with spaces are truncated. This, the defense says, indicates the logs had been modified.
“The prosecution makes much of the two names. But if you log into this kind of IRC chat with the name ‘Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat,’ you will just be called ‘Advanced,’ because you cannot include spaces. It simply cannot be done to be called ‘Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat,’ so it’s been changed subsequently,” Michael Juul Eriksen argued.
Lost in translation
Speaking with TF yesterday, Kristina said that while Gottfrid is in good spirits, earlier in the week her son “lost his temper” with his interpreter over technical terms not being relayed correctly.
“Gottfrid and his lawyer have complained about this earlier in court, several months ago – and now this happens again,” Kristina said. “Denmark should use its best interpreters in a task like this – and the interpreters themselves should refrain from accepting to do the job it if they feel that they can’t do it well.”
By Friday morning, however, things had improved.
“I just saw a report that Gottfrid and [his new interpreter] smiled at each other when she tried to translate some technical terms,” a good sign, Kristina believes.
The week ends in more drama
The cross-examination of Gottfrid’s co-defendant had been due to begin Friday afternoon, a highly anticipated event since to date the 21-year-old has refused to give any comment to the police. But thanks to the prosecution producing yet more evidence that had not previously been shared with the defense, the court would have to wait.
Defending the 21-year-old, lawyer Michael Juul Eriksen said he couldn’t let the questioning go ahead until the information had been read by the defense.
The trial continues next week.