The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde: 'They can't take my soul'

Peter Sunde was the poster boy for the file sharing movement, then he was sentenced to eight months prison and fined millions of dollars

By Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, IDG News Service |  IT Management, copyright, The Pirate Bay

Two weeks before our interview, Sunde was heading out the revolving doors at Malmö Airport. Passing him, heading in, was Tomas Norström, the judge in the first instance court who sentenced him to jail three years earlier. Sunde turned around and confronted him.

Norström remembers their meeting well. "He asked if I had been bribed and if they'd given me a raise after the sentencing. I said no," Norström says. He was in a hurry at the time, searching his pockets for the airline ticket while trying to answer the accusations.

Sunde stands by his words. Most of his answers to our questions amount to the same thing. He's agitated, angry and offended. The only thing he never admits to is finding the whole thing kind of difficult. Most people in his situation would have a hard time sleeping at night. But Sunde refuses to admit he's ever felt sad, lonely or vulnerable. Not yet. "Maybe that'll come later. Tomorrow or in a few years. But right now I'm just pissed off," he says.

Perhaps the explanation is that he won't give his opponents -- which at this point would include the Swedish judicial system, the police and Hollywood as a whole -- the satisfaction. Feeling sad would mean admitting defeat.

"The thing is, they can't take my soul. Even if I get locked up somewhere, I know that I'm not the one who did wrong. I deserve no punishment, and that gives me the right to be angry. I'm not the one who should feel sorry," Sunde says.

In late 2008, things nearly boiled over. Sunde was on holiday in Iceland when a reporter from Swedish television called up and started asking questions about dead children. Somehow, details from a police investigation into two children who had been murdered in the Swedish town of Arboga had been leaked onto the Pirate Bay. Several photos of their corpses were now being shared among the site's users. The case, in all its gory details, had struck a chord with the public and was covered widely in the Swedish press that year.

The story that now followed accused The Pirate Bay founders of putting the photographs of the dead children online. In the outcry that followed, things began to change. The public perception of Sunde shifted: He was no longer portrayed as the hero, the underdog everyone rooted for. Instead, he became the villain, a cynical exploiter, profiteering from the death of two children.

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