One by one the key players behind The Pirate Bay have been captured by police and forced to complete jail sentences previously determined by Swedish authorities.
The most recently detained was Fredrik Neij, a key player in the operations of The Pirate Bay right from the very early days of the site.
After realizing that his fate in Sweden involved a 10 month jail sentence, Neij fled to Laos in Asia where he lived until recently with this young family. He traveled from Laos into bordering Thailand on many occasions but last month his luck ran out.
On November 4, immigration police announced that Neij had been detained while crossing the border into Nong Khai, a city in North-East Thailand. What followed was a very public press conference in which a bewildered looking Neij was paraded before the media while flanked by several officers.
But while the rest of the world had to wait until November 4 to hear the news, leaked emails obtained by TorrentFreak show that the Hollywood studios knew about things well in advance.
In an email dated the day before Neij’s arrest was made public, the MPAA advised chiefs at Disney, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros, NBC Universal and FOX of the Swede’s arrest. But things went deeper than that.
Already there had been rumors in Thai media that “U.S. movie companies” had hired a lawfirm to track down Neij and that a house on the island of Phuket plus a bank account containing five million baht ($153,000) had been discovered. Emails seen by TF confirm the MPAA’s involvement, but also that they didn’t want that noticed in public.
“Jan Van Voorn [MPA’s Regional Director for Content Protection] and Neil Gane [former policeman, former AFACT boss, now MPA APIC chief in Asia] are in contact with both Swedish and Thai authorities providing additional assistance,” the email reveals.
“Thai Immigration is planning a press conference for tomorrow, November 4. We have alerted our Communications Section, and do not plan to comment to the media.”
Another email confirmed the MPA’s intention to lie low, but that it might already be too late to hide any involvement.
“Huge win! Don’t know if hackers will retaliate,” an email from a studio begins. “MPA is laying low and quiet, but the pirate blogs are attributing the pursuit to movie studios.”
While a brash affair, the press conference itself revealed few details of Neij’s actual arrest other than the time, place, and what he was wearing. However, the correspondence the MPAA had with the studios reveals they knew quite a bit more.
Holding a long-standing belief that Neij was somehow still associated with the running of The Pirate Bay, in 2011 the studios obtained a beefed-up injunction which banned the Swede from being involved with the site.
Not only has their mindset remained the same for three years, but the studios also believe that Neij could be on the hook for other offenses too.
“Neij is facing a 10 month prison sentence in Sweden for his conviction in the Pirate Bay case. Neij may also face new charges for his continuing role in the operation of TPB and two additional charges for computer hacking,” the emails read.
No additional details on any hacking charges were provided or have been released since, but the MPAA are hopeful that items taken from Neij when he was arrested will provide the clues.
“Two laptop computers were seized from Neij at the time of his arrest, and may provide additional evidence against Neij and others in the ongoing TPB investigation in Sweden,” the MPAA writes.
While an investigation into The Pirate Bay is now obvious following the raid two weeks ago, another MPAA email confirms that a criminal referral was also made against “TPB co-founder Frederik Neij and his ISP DCP Networks.”
Fredrik Neij is currently serving his 10 month Pirate Bay related sentence in a Swedish jail but his arrival there from Thailand was never announced publicly. He is the third key Pirate Bay operational figure to be jailed.
Gottfrid Svartholm was the first to be detained after authorities in Cambodia handed him over to Swedish police in 2012. Gottfrid completed his sentence but is currently detained in Denmark following an unrelated hacking case.
Peter Sunde was captured by a special police unit on a farm in Sweden during the summer of 2014. Sunde served his sentence and is now a free man, probably traveling around Europe.
With the imprisonment of Fredrik Neij the MPAA now have the full set, an achievement they were happy to pat themselves on the back for.
“Another excellent example of global cooperation and coordination between our content protection hubs,” a November email concludes.