PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian police said Tuesday they will deport a Swedish founder of the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay as soon as the country's interior minister gives his approval.
Deputy National Police chief Sok Phal said the decision to expel Gottfrid Svartholm Warg came after visiting Swedish officials presented legal documents on the copyright infringement case against him.
Cambodia has no extradition treaty with Sweden, so the expulsion can be done through an administrative process, such as revoking a visa, rather than legal proceedings.
Irate sympathizers meanwhile claimed to have hacked a number of Cambodian websites in retaliation for Svartholm Warg's arrest, which took place at the request of Swedish authorities last Thursday at a home he had rented in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
Svartholm Warg and three Pirate Bay colleagues were sentenced in 2009 to one year in prison and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to major entertainment companies, including Warner Bros., Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures, for copyright violations.
All four defendants denied the charges, arguing that The Pirate Bay doesn't actually host any copyright-protected material itself. Instead, it provides a forum for its users to download content through so-called torrent files. The technology allows users to transfer parts of a large file from several different users.
Svartholm Warg, who often used the pseudonym 'anakata' in his online activities, failed to show up at an appeal hearing in 2010. The appeals court reduced prison sentences for the other three co-founders from one year each to between four and 10 months and raised the amount they have to pay in damages to the entertainment industry to 46 million kronor ($6.5 million).
An underground hacking group, NullCrew, has meanwhile claimed responsibility for hacking into several Cambodian websites in retaliation for Svartholm Warg's arrest. In a statement posted on pastebin.com, a popular public forum, it had called for launching "(hash)OpTPB" — Operation The Pirate Bay — to protest what it described as a blow against Internet freedom.
"The founder of The Pirate Bay was arrested in Cambodia, so Cambodia is now a target," it said in another statement.
It claimed to have hacked websites belonging to the Cambodian army, the country's Institute of Standards, and the Public Works Ministry, posting the alleged passwords of the sites' administrators as proof. It also said it had hacked the site of a small Cambodian airline, PMT Air.
NullCrew and other sympathizers of Svartholm Warg likened his situation to that of Kim Dotcom, the founder and owner of the file-sharing site Megaupload, who was arrested in January in New Zealand after U.S. authorities accused him of facilitating massive piracy through his website. U.S. authorities are trying to extradite him on charges of money laundering and racketeering.
The U.S. entertainment industry aggressively pursues cases it considers theft of its materials, especially movies and music, that are downloaded without payment. Critics charge that penalties are disproportionate with the offense, and chill the free flow of information.