At the end of June last year, nine sites connected to movie streaming were targeted by the U.S. Government, including NinjaVideo.
It was the first round in the ongoing “Operation in Our Sites” through which more than 100 domain names have been seized to date.
In a few cases the authorities not only seized the domain names of the sites, but also launched full-fledged criminal investigations. One of these sites is NinjaVideo, and five people connected to the movie streaming site have now been indicted by a federal grand jury on suspicion of conspiracy and several copyright related offenses.
The 29-year old Hana Beshara and 23-year old Matthew Smith were charged as founders of the site. Zoi Mertzanis (36) and Joshua Evans (34) were identified as most active uploaders and Jeremy Andrew (33) as the person responsible for the site’s security.
Over the past several months the authorities negotiated with the NinjaVideo people, with the latter hoping to make a deal and settle the case, but these negotiations failed.
In response to the indictment Hana Beshara, better known as Phara on NinjaVideo, released an emotional video with her take on the events of the last months, and what still lies ahead. Although visibly shaken, Beshara says she stands behind her actions and doesn’t regret her involvement in the site.
“Everything we ever did was for the love of the game. It was so much fun. There’ll never be any regrets regarding NinjaVideo, ever.”
Ninjavideo founder Hanal Beshara (aka Phara)
Next week the five defendants will appear before U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia, as the trial moves forward.
This isn’t the first criminal prosecution as a result of Operation in Our Sites. Earlier this year the authorities arrested the 32-year old Brian McCarthy from Texas for his involvement in Channelsurfing.net. As with NinjaVideo, Channelsurfing.net didn’t host any copyrighted material on its servers, instead it linked to third-party sites.