In late August Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was arrested in Cambodia. After being held by authorities there he was swiftly deported to Sweden. Once in his homeland he was hit with charges connected to an alleged hacking offense but since then the news trail has gone largely cold. Speaking with Gottfrid’s mother Kristina, TorrentFreak has learned that her son is being kept in solitary confinement, locked up for 23 hours a day. But he is allowed to read and hopefully, very soon, that will include your letters.
During the dying days of August, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was arrested by Cambodian police in Phnom Penh, the city he made his home several years ago. From his comfortable apartment above the Cadillac Bar on the riverfront, Gottfrid was taken into custody.
The immediately recognizable Swede is best known for his connections to a rather infamous BitTorrent site and it was initially presumed he was going back to Sweden to face a pending jail sentence for copyright infringement offenses. That turned out to be only part of the jigsaw.
After landing at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, Gottfrid was hit with new charges relating to the hacking of an IT company closely connected with Sweden’s tax authorities.
Gottfrid has been detained ever since, with little to zero information coming out of the Swedish system as to his health or whereabouts. But one person, his mother Kristina Svartholm, knows exactly where he is.
“He’s being held in a newly built custody house 15 minutes by commute north of the city, Häktet i Sollentuna,” Kristina told TorrentFreak. “Very large, very impersonal, very frightening for visitors who don’t like surveillance cameras, lifts that move automatically, security checks…”
Of course, the most important questions concern Gottfrid’s well-being, but first let’s hear a little bit more from Kristina on her son’s circumstances to better understand his position.
“He is in custody suspected of hacking. It is called the ‘Logica case’ for which two other persons were arrested earlier this year. They are still under suspicion but free, waiting for the trial – if it comes to one,” says Kristina.
“This is not a proper case yet, no prosecution so far. The crime is said to have been going on from early 2010 to summer 2012 according to the prosecutor. The reason why Gottfrid is being kept in custody is that he ‘might destroy evidence and disturb the investigation’.”
Three weeks ago the authorities gave another reason why Gottfrid should continue to be locked up, unlike his co-accused who remain free. If he remained at large, the prosecutor argued, he would “continue with criminal activities.”
“Maybe the court realized that this latter claim was a bit stupid because he in fact should be in jail now anyway – if the Swedish police who picked him up in Cambodia were telling the truth,” notes Kristina. “His old Pirate Bay sentence, one year in jail, was what the international spokesman for the Swedish police, as well as people at the Swedish embassy, gave as the reason for bringing him here.”
Whatever the reasons, the end is result is that Gottfrid is now in custody, locked up for 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.
“He is kept under restrictions as decided by the prosecutor. TV in his cell. He can buy cigarettes and sweets from a kiosk that comes Monday and Wednesdays,” Kristina explains.
“He is offered one hour ‘outdoors’ each day in some kind of exercise yard with high concrete walls. That is all he is allowed to leave his cell for. No gym, no opportunities to meet other people except for the guards.
“I have got permission so far from the prosecutor to meet him once a week for an hour each time, together with two policemen who listen to our conversations and stop us if we get close to the ‘case’, which we happened to do in the beginning. It has been a process of amazing bureaucrazy (Freudian spelling!) every time before getting there, I assure you.”
Being locked in a cell for 23 hours every day must be a mind-numbing experience, especially for someone as intelligent as Gottfrid. But Kristina says that her son is filling his time watching television and reading books, since the one newspaper he’s given access to is a tabloid that he refuses to buy. “It’s not exactly his favorite,” Kristina says. Overall though, Gottfrid appears to be coping well.
“He is perfectly fine!” says Kristina. “I haven’t noticed any health problems whatsoever since his arrival. He is very thin, yes – but he is strong, amazingly strong, both physically and mentally, I assure you. When we meet we have fun together, he jokes and tells stories and makes me laugh.”