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Wikileaks, the Pirate Party, the Far Right funder & Internet Freedom

Guest post by Joseph W

Julian Assange signing deal with Swedish Pirate Party, August 2010

Reuters is reporting that the web project of Peter Sunde is providing a financial lifeline to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Business Week reports:

As the U.S. government and a variety of corporations, such as Visa (V) and PayPal (EBAY), keep up the pressure on the document-leaking organization that they see as a traitor and a scofflaw, a rough alliance of supporters have taken it upon themselves to wage a cyberwar in WikiLeaks’ defense by attacking the websites of those and other companies.

Leading the fight is a shadowy group called Operation Payback, which in turn is loosely affiliated with Anonymous, an organization (although that term makes it sound more coordinated than it really is) that grew out of the alternative website 4chan and became infamous for its attacks on Scientology, among other things. At last check, the Operation Payback site itself was offline—another symptom of the back-and-forth battle in which the group has been coordinating “distributed denial of service,” or DDOS, attacks on Amazon (AMZN), PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard (MA). Also in this loose federation are the Pirate Bay—the file-sharing operation in Sweden’s Pirate Party, which has been providing servers for the WikiLeaks documents—and Flattr, the “tip jar” service that is now one of the few ways to donate money to WikiLeaks and that was started by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde.

Sunde established Pirate Bay in 2003, a bittorrent site offering free file sharing between members.

Peter Sunde was sentenced to eight months in prison earlier this year for his role in copyright infringement. Sunde was convicted alongside Far Right racist Carl Lundstrom and two others, due to their work together on the torrent-tracking Pirate Bay project.

Here Pirate Bay activists appear, answering questions about their link with Lundstrom:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eg1S9n81ras&feature=player_embedded

The Vine reported about Lundstrom last year:

Operators of torrent search engine Pirate Bay are currently defending themselves in court. But new details suggest the extent of a benefactor’s links with far-right groups in Sweden.

The neo-Nazi and far-right background of sometime financier Carl Lundström has been known for some time. Far from pleading ignorance, the band of alleged pirates said then that they “just needed the money.” Lundström and a Pirate Bay operator worked side-by-side at Rix Telecom. Lundström’s cash injection was used to pay for servers and other tech bits. It is suggested he is a 40% owner of the operation.

The new information, coming through both a private blog and tech news site The Register, has revealed the strength of Lundström’s ties to nasty, far-right organisations. Helmintholog writes:

Carl Lundström inherited a fortune from crispbread, and has put some of it into extremist right-wing parties, with a strong anti-immigrant line. In 1985 he was involved with a group of skinheads who beat up some Latin Americans in the old town in Stockholm; in the early Nineties he was thrown out of New Democracy, a populist and xenophobic party, for being too right wing; this month it turns out that one of the men arrested for his part in an armed burglary and assault in a small town on the West Coast, part of a feud within a neo-nazist organisation, was the managing director of one of Lundström’s companies.

The Register reported last year:

Over the years, Lundström has switched his support from Keep Sweden Swedish to the far-right headbangers party New Democracy – but was thrown out for being too right wing. He’s currently bankrolling 100 candidates for the Swedish equivalent of the BNP.

This is Carl Lundstrom:

The Guardian reported last year:

The money man, Carl Lundström, on whose servers The Pirate Bay was housed, is straight out of the crime novels of Stieg Larsson. He inherited a fortune built on crispbread, and has a long history of involvement with extreme rightwing politics. In the 1980s, he was a member of “Keep Sweden Swedish”, an anti-immigrant fringe group; he has financially backed the Sweden Democrats, a would-be populist and anti-immigrant party; and only this month the managing director of one of his companies was charged with a robbery in a small west-coast town, part of a feud within a neo-Nazi group. Lundström told the Metro news­paper (http://bit.ly/metro) after he sacked the man that he had known he was a party member, but not that he had gone to collect another member’s computer with a submachine gun.

In an article about Pirate Bay’s own compromises with corporate business, The Guardian also wryly observed:

Global Gaming’s purchase of The Pirate Bay is more symbolic than anything. It’s the final proof that the people behind The Pirate Bay were not anti-corporation, anti-establishment and altruistic after all (as if the financial backing of a businessman who finances far-right nationalist groups wasn’t proof enough) – that, rather, they were building a business. They even released a statement on Tuesday that said: “You can now not only share files but shares with people.”

This week, however, the Guardian reports the Pirate Party in more positive terms:

Groups supporting Wikileaks in Stockholm also rejected speculation that the case was politically motivated. Rick Falkvinge, leader of Sweden’s Pirate party, a fringe pro-freedom of speech and anti-copyright party, said: “In theory, if you wanted to strike back at WikiLeaks to discredit the organisation, this would be blueprint 1A, but I have not seen anything to indicate that this was politically motivated.” His organisation has been co-operating with WikiLeaks since August and has lent two of its 20 servers, which are located in a former nuclear bunker in Stockholm, to WikiLeaks, he said.

Deutsche Welle is reporting that the Swiss Pirate Party are hosting WikiLeaks’ new domain: www.wikileaks.ch. The Pirate Party has chapters across Europe, although began in Sweden.

I have to wonder – is the Pirate Party really the sort of “pro-freedom of speech” party that the Guardian should be praising, or that Wikileaks should be working alongside?