Founded in 2004, Swebits is one of the longest-standing BitTorrent communities in Sweden. The tracker, which limited access to Swedish users only, amassed more than 40,000 members during its active years.
But yesterday, instead of being welcomed by the usual list of freshly uploaded content, visitors to Swebits found an unexpected and ominous message posted on the site’s homepage.
“As we all know everything has a beginning and an end. This is the end of Swebits. During the last day there has been a lot of speculation, some with hope and some with less hope,” Swebits staff informed the site’s users.
The notice went on to explain that the site had suffered a major DDoS attack and hardware failure last weekend, problems that are too time consuming and costly to fix. In addition, the site had a lack of donations recently, which according to the staff is a signal that the users don’t want the site to survive.
“It’s been a pleasure to be a part of Swebits and being able to influence Sweden’s best tracker. We know that it will be hard to fill the void that Swebits will leave after closing, but it isn’t impossible to replace it. Take care, whatever happens in the future,” they add.
However, this official message doesn’t take away all the speculation among users. Indeed, there appears to be an additional motive ignored by the announcements.
Today, the Swedish authorities and local anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran revealed that someone close to the site was arrested last week. The 25-year old man, who allegedly was a major uploader to Swebits, had his house raided and was later arrested by the police.
The man reportedly uploaded more than 1000 films to the site during a two week period last fall, and the authorities say he confessed his involvement during interrogations. The man is portrayed by the authorities as a central figure in the community and they link the closure of the site to his arrest.
The number of films the man allegedly shared in just two weeks appears to be unrealistically high, but the prosecution seem confident in that claim. “This person is suspected of having made the original uploads and then sharing out the works via torrent files,” prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson commented.
“Previously, we have focused us on the ‘scene, but now we have directed our focus to individual BitTorrent users,” said Henrik Ponten of Antipiratbyran in a comment. Interestingly enough the arrested man was ‘outed’ by the scene in the past, which might have tipped off the anti-piracy outfit.
This is not the first time that Swebits has shut down. In 2008 the site’s users were also led to believe that the site had ceased operating, but at the time it was a stunt to promote the revamped design that launched hours later.
This time, however, all signs suggest that Swebits wont be returning anytime soon, not in its current form at least. What role the arrest played in the shutdown is impossible to say without an official confirmation, but we have to assume that it caused concerns among the site’s staff members.