Last week, I noticed that former Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde had posted the letter
that he sent to the Swedish Administration as part of his plea to be pardoned. It was written in Swedish, and I wasn't comfortable that the Google translation was accurate enough. Thankfully, however, Rick Falkvinge has posted a full translation in English
. Many of the points Sunde raises came out during the trial, but the key points -- on why he didn't actually do the things he was convicted of -- were new to me, and should concern anyone who actually believes in the rule of law and an impartial judicial system.
The serious conflicts of interests of many involved in the case have been covered before. The fact that the lead prosecutor was hired by the entertainment industry while
he was still prosecuting the case, remains an astounding point that should have resulted in a clear mistrial. That multiple judges had strong connections to copyright maximalist groups or even competitors to The Pirate Bay should also be of great concern. However, even if we ignore all of that, Sunde's detailed explanation for his conviction is really quite incredible. He notes that he was specifically convicted of three things... which he did not do. Remember, Peter's role was as that of a spokesperson. He did not actually work on the technology of the site at all, but the prosecution needed to show that he did -- so Peter accuses them of concocting a story about how he set up a "load balancer" for the site, because he admitted that he knew what a load balancer was. However, as Peter notes (1) he did not set up a load balancer, (2) the server in question was put there by someone unrelated to The Pirate Bay and (3) it was never connected to the internet anyway. And yet he was still convicted because of it.
Among other things, I’m supposed to have installed a computer that operated as a so-called load balancer – a computer that makes it possible to distribute the workload of big web services among different computers. It reads clear as day in the Appeals Court verdict that I’m responsible for configuring this computer. Such a computer did indeed exist in one of the racks that The Pirate Bay was located in. On the other hand, it wasn’t connected with a single wire or cable in any way. Some computers have been investigated at the National Forensic Laboratory (Statens Kriminaltekniska Laboratorium). Some computers have been combed for details. In some cases, the prosecutor has called owners of computers to ask them if they want to press charges of electronic trespassing against Gottfrid Svartholm, as they found that he has had access to computers. Computers he has been maintaining for clients. The computer I’m supposed to have been responsible for isn’t mentioned with a single line of text, except in the seizing protocol from the raid. I cannot find the configuration I’ve been convicted of creating. The configuration I have created, beyond reasonable doubt, according to the Swedish Appeals Court. The configuration I can say with 100% certainty would have proven that this computer had never been used for The Pirate Bay. The owner had placed it in the rack by themselves just a few weeks prior to the raid.
During the Appeals Court proceedings, prosecutor Hakan Roswall confirmed my story of this, that this machine had never been used in the operations of The Pirate Bay. Therefore, my lawyer put no energy into bringing it up in his final statement. And yet, Roswall said after this, that I had been responsible for it. And in the end, I was convicted because of it. There is not a shred of evidence anywhere that this computer has been in use, not for anything at all
I know that some who dislike The Pirate Bay won't care about the specifics here. They'll argue that the site itself is pure evil, and he was deservedly convicted. I think that, if you agree with the court's basic reasoning for the convictions, you might be able to make a credible case against the two actual founders of the site who ran it. But Peter wasn't one of those guys. He was just "the spokesperson," and it appears that he got railroaded here, based on a very questionable use of the law.
Of course, he admits that it's unlikely his plea will work, and he fully expects to spend some time in jail. However, as for the fine that's been levied against him, he notes that the 11 million euros he will owe is "fantasy numbers" that he knows is unpayable, meaning that he's likely to be effectively banished from Sweden, noting that "this debt is equivalent to exile, to deportation."
Separately, Peter posted a much shorter blog post
, which I'm trusting the Google translation feature on -- so I warn you that accuracy may be slightly sketchy. In it, Peter notes that the prosecution has effectively admitted that he didn't actually do the stuff he was convicted of, but claims that doesn't change his responsibility. Seriously. Here's the rough automated translation:
That the work of the Court of Appeal found Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi begun in late 2005 may not have resulted in actual service until the time of the raid against TPB, does not affect the responsibility of the act for which Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi convicted.
In other words, he didn't provide the actual services he was convicted of, but that doesn't make him any less responsible for the things he didn't actually do. Swedish justice in action.