Pirate Bay’s Gottfrid Svartholm Loses Hacking Appeal

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Following the largest case of its type in Denmark, in October 2014 Gottfrid Svartholm was found guilty of hacking IT company CSC. The Pirate Bay founder immediately appealed but after a technically complex hearing a jury at the High Court today unanimously upheld the decision of the lower court.

gottfridTwo years after being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012, Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.

The Pirate Bay founder and a 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It was billed as the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.

Right from the outset Gottfrid’s position was that his computer, from where the hacking had taken place, had been compromised by outside attackers. Respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum gave evidence for the defense in support of this theory. However, the court was not convinced.

Dismissing the “remote control” defense, Judge Ulla Otken described the hacking of CSC as both “systematic and comprehensive.” Three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts in 2014 and Gottfrid was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.

Never one to give up, Gottfrid immediately filed an appeal and this month his case came before the Eastern High Court. According to local media, whose coverage has been much less intense than when the Swede went on trial last year, the evidence presented by both sides was of a highly technical nature.

Writing earlier this week for Version2.dk, Elías Lundström reported that even as an IT journalist he had difficulty in following the evidence, a sentiment shared by Gottfrid’s mother.

“I also have trouble understanding it – how should any of the jurors be able to follow the evidence?” Kristina Svartholm said.

Gottfrid’s lawyer Luise Høj also underlined the difficulty in dealing fairly with such a complex case.

“I think overall that progress continues to be characterized by the fact that we all lack the technical knowledge to deal with this matter, and it characterizes the whole process,” she said.

Whether the complexity of the case affected the jury will be a matter for future debate, but a few moments ago all three judges and all nine jurors upheld the District Court’s decision handed down last October.

Addressing the “remote access” defense, the High Court ruling notes that it would be unlikely that Gottfrid’s computer could be accessed without him noticing it. Furthermore, the Court found it unusual that the Swede refused to assist police in getting to the bottom of the crime.

While the guilty verdict will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to Gottfrid himself, his mother Kristina – who has endured two court cases and numerous trips to Denmark in support of her son – has been openly critical of the entire process.

In a series of tweets this week she complained of how the case has been handled, from its roots in Cambodia, via Sweden and ultimately to Denmark.

Update: The High Court has just announced that Gottfrid’s original sentence of 3.5 years will stand.

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