Alleged “super hacker” Gottfrid Svartholm is currently being held in a Danish prison on suspicion of hacking into the computers of IT company CSC.
After being extradited to Denmark from Sweden in 2013, next month he will go to trial.
In recent weeks Danish authorities have been attempting to round up witnesses to ensure they attend the Frederiksberg court during September. It’s unclear how many there are, but TorrentFreak has learned at least one won’t be attending.
John, who has asked us not to use his real name, is a former colleague of Gottfrid who lives and works in Cambodia. TorrentFreak previously confirmed his identity and the fact that he and Gottfrid did business together. In April he received a surprise telephone call which led to an unsettling series of events involving Danish police.
Several months later and John is again being put under pressure. Following suspicions he was being watched, John received an anonymous tipoff that he had been placed on the prosecution’s witness list against Gottfrid. Sure enough, on Wednesday Jens Jorgensen from the Danish police, one of the people who traveled to Cambodia to question John, telephoned John to register him as a witness.
John and Jorgensen then exchanged emails in which the former expressed bemusement at why the prosecution would want to use his evidence when it actually supports the position of Gottfrid Svartholm.
“I fail to see how anything I previously said to you could be used in this case against [Gottfrid]. As I told you, lots of people had access to [Gottfrid's] computer,” John wrote.
“Why on earth would you want me to testify against him when you know full well that I don’t believe he committed this crime based on what little information I have?”
In his early days of detention Gottfrid was kept in solitary confinement, something which enraged Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and prompted complaints from Gottfrid’s mother Kristina to Amnesty. This treatment is also a big issue with John.
“Gottfrid’s previous prolonged, extrajudicial solitary confinement in your country very clearly meets the United Nations definition of torture, and I find it utterly troubling,” John told Jorgensen.
“With that in mind, I am deeply concerned about the prospect of being a part of something that is so clearly unethical if not outright illegal. Is there some sort of legal equivalent of being a conscientious objector to trials? If so, I would consider myself a conscientious objector to this one, the whole thing disgusts me whether he committed the crime or not.”
Clearly, traveling half way around the world to assist the prosecution in a high profile trial against someone you believe is innocent is problematic enough, but John also has serious concerns about the legal issues involved.
“Will I be offered access to a lawyer at any point during all of this? he asked Jorgensen.
“So far I’ve been threatened with force by a man claiming to be a Swedish policeman, made to answer a bunch of questions, and now I’m being asked to make a decision about legal matters. I’d really like access to a lawyer so I can make informed decisions about this, but I can’t afford one as I got fired from my job the day after you came to see me.”
In addition to visiting John, Danish police also visited John’s employer when they visited Cambodia earlier this year. He was fired less than 24 hours later but was fortunate to find new employment.
In his response, Jorgensen confirmed that attending the trial is a voluntary act and no one will force John to attend. He also informed John that if he needs legal advice, he’ll have to pay for it himself. Nevertheless, the summons was issued.
The summons states that traveling expenses will be reimbursed and if necessary John will be provided with a hotel room in Denmark. He is also offered DKK 40 for every two hours he’s away from home or work – that’s roughly $3.50 per hour. If that isn’t enough the police say that more money may be available, but in John’s case that probably won’t be needed.
“I respectfully refuse your invitation and can confirm that I have no intention of appearing in court, at least until you clarify your motives for requesting me to do so, and until you provide access to appropriate legal advice so that I can make an informed decision,” John concludes.
A copy of the summons can be found below – note that while Gottfrid Svartholm is accused of only “white collar” offenses, the contact address is the Public Prosecutor’s Department of Violent Crime.