Authorities cracked down on file-sharing sites across Europe yesterday in a major operation two years in the making, Swedish officials told media.
The raid is getting special attention because one target in Stockholm is best known for hosting part of Wikileaks.org, the site where whistle-blowers have leaked highly sensitive documents from governments across the world. But authorities said the real target was not Wikileaks, but the highly-active pirate network known as The Scene or Warez Scene, which encompasses 48 sites.
Seven locations were raided in Sweden, according to the file-sharing news site Torrent Freak, including a university. Raids were also reportedly carried out in the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, the U.K., the Czech Republic, Hungary and Belgium, where the request originated.
Several torrent sites including Pirate Bay were down for users in some countries today.
Five policemen showed up yesterday morning at PRQ, the company that in part hosts Wikileaks, and asked about two IP addresses used in 2009. The company handed over email addresses associated with the IP addresses, which are the only records it keeps on its clients. No servers or computers were confiscated, the company said.
The raid comes as Wikileaks is preparing to release 15,000 classified documents related to the war in Afghanistan, which the U.S. government is anxious to prevent. PRQ denied that Wikileaks was the subject of the raid, and Wikileaks has not made any statement yet.
“The raid was about the usual file-sharing crack-down, which they have each year, so not directed directly against PRQ or its customers,” PRQ said in an email to customers.
The extent and precise targeting of the raid suggest that it was a dedicated effort to crack down on piracy. The fact that one of Wikileaks’ hosts was targeted could be a coincidence because Wikileaks and file-sharing sites have similar requirements: security and bravery in the face of international law enforcement.
But stranger conspiracy theories regarding Wikileaks have been proposed. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is claiming rape charges filed against him in Sweden are part of a smear campaign orchestrated by the U.S. government.
What do you think – was Wikileaks a target here?