Founded in 2011, Swefilmer was Sweden’s most popular streaming movie and TV show site. Research published last year by Media Vision claimed that 25% of all web TV viewing in the country was carried out on Swefilmer and another similar site, Dreamfilm.
All that began to change in July 2015 when one of the site’s operators, local man Ola Johansson, revealed that he’d been raided by the police who seized various items of computer equipment and placed him under arrest.
“It’s been a tough month to say the least. On 8 July, I received a search by the police at home. I lost a computer, mobile phone and other things,” Johansson said.
The gravity of the situation became clear when the Swede revealed in a video posted to YouTube that he’d been detained for almost four days.
Now, fresh news coming out of from Sweden is shining new light on the scale of the investigation which is already the largest involving a streaming site in the country.
While Johansson remains suspected of copyright infringement offenses, he is not thought to be the main person behind the site. A second man, believed to be the main operator of Swefilmer and the person who handled its revenue, has now been arrested in Germany.
According to Expressen he was first arrested in his absence last summer and was physically arrested in January 2016 after Sweden obtained a European arrest warrant. The existence of the warrant had previously been kept secret and news of the arrest only came to light last evening.
The man is reportedly a 25-year-old Turkish citizen resident in Germany. He is accused of being the site’s main operator and the person who setup the site’s deals with advertisers and accepted donations from users.
Court documents obtained by Expressen show that the European arrest warrant was obtained in Sweden on August 18, 2015. Signed by veteran file-sharing prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the 25-year-old suspect is accused of offenses including copyright infringement and aggravated money laundering.
The case involves a sample 1,400 movies that were allegedly made available without copyright holders’ permission between January 2013 and July 2015. In respect of the financial crimes the man is accused of receiving the equivalent of $1.7m in advertising revenue and donations into a Turkish bank account.
An order already exists to seize around $1.5m, which will be confiscated in preparation for any financial settlements when the case goes to trial. In January other seizures were made including a $77,000 car and properties worth $233,000.
The man remains in custody in Germany and it’s understood that his lawyer is campaigning for his release. Last month he filed an appeal which stated that no evidence had been produced to suggest the man was involved in Swefilmer. The appeal was rejected.
In the meantime Claes Kennedy, the lawyer representing Ola Johansson, expressed surprise that he had not been informed of the recent developments.
“It is strange that I was not informed about this,” Kennedy said. “Ola admits that he has been involved to some extent in the site Swefilmer, but his involvement was limited.”
While the prosecution is not expected to reach Pirate Bay-style heights, it does mark the most significant case against a streaming portal in Sweden to date. There is some way to go but it’s expected that the prosecution will demand the most severe sentences available.