BANGKOK – One of the founders of popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay has been arrested under an Interpol warrant as he was crossing into Thailand from Laos, police said Tuesday.
Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij, who uses the alias TiAMO, was detained Monday by Thai immigration police at a checkpoint in Thailand’s Nong Khai province, about 310 miles northeast of Bangkok.
Neij, along with other Pirate Bay co-founders, was convicted of aiding copyright infringement by a court in Sweden in 2009. He fled the country after being released on bail.
Regional Immigration Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Chartchai Eimsaeng said a U.S.-based movie association had hired a Thai lawyer to search for Neij, and his photo had been given to immigration police in Nong Khai.
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The U.S. movie and music industries have for years pursued strong legal action against sites such as The Pirate Bay, which they say aid the illegal distribution of copyrighted material, depriving its makers of profits due them.
“It might have been a coincidence, but he was wearing the same gray T-shirt that was in the photo. The immigration police officer who spotted him in the car recognized him, so he pulled his car over,” Chartchai told The Associated Press by phone.
Chartchai said the 36-year-old Swede had lived in Laos since 2012 and traveled nearly 30 times to Thailand, where he has a house on the resort island of Phuket and 5 million baht ($153,000) in a savings account. Neij’s wife was in the car with him. He was being sent to Bangkok later Tuesday and was expected to be returned to Sweden, the police officer said.
Jonas Nilsson, Neij’s lawyer in Sweden, said his client had called him Monday and told him Thai authorities had said “he would be transported to Sweden.” However, Nilsson said no decision had been made about a possible extradition.
Neij is the second Pirate Bay founder to be arrested in Southeast Asia after a Swedish court in 2009 gave him and three Pirate Bay associates one-year sentences for copyright violation. They also were ordered to pay 46 million kronor ($6.5 million) in damages to the entertainment industry. Their appeals were denied by Sweden’s high court.
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, who used the alias “Anakata” on the Internet, was arrested in Cambodia in 2012 and sent back to Sweden after an international arrest warrant was issued against him.
Svartholm Warg served his sentence for copyright infringement before he was extradited to neighboring Denmark, where he faced prosecution for hacking. On Friday, a Danish court sentenced him to 3 1 / 2 years in prison after he was found guilty of hacking into a private company handling sensitive information for Danish authorities.