Europe raids suspected illegal movie kingpins

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Europe raids suspected illegal movie kingpins

Targets alleged suppliers of pre-market movies.

Authorities in 14 European countries joined forces to conduct raids across the continent on Tuesday, targeting the so-called Warez Scene - a group thought to be responsible for supplying movies that were yet to be officially released.

Raids took place in countries including Germany, Great Britain, Belgium and Italy, Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad said in a statement today.

The raids were the culmination of a two year Belgian-led investigation aimed at identifying people suspected of offering movies before they had been released to the market, said Ingblad.

Raids in Sweden also targeted two web hosts, including one of Wikileaks' hosts, PRQ, which was set up by a founder of The Pirate Bay.

The host, which prided itself on providing its clients complete anonymity, denied that any equipment was seized from its premises, according to Swedish daily newspaper, Expressen.

Ingblad told the paper that the raids were not about WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange faced a separate criminal investigation in that country.

The Swedish raids also targeted a web host based in northern Sweden's Umeå University and several homes in Sweden's south.

Ingblad said that several servers and computers were "seized for further investigation" and that four people had been questioned on suspicion of violating the country's copyright law.

No one from the web hosts was suspected of violating the law, he said.

Locations in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Great Britain and Norway were also believed to be targeted, according to torrent news website, Torrent Freak.

Belgian authorities had been investigating the activities of the Warez Scene - otherwise known as "The Scene" - for two years.

The Warez Scene was believed by authorities to be the network of people at the top of an illegal file sharing "pyramid".

Ingblad said the raids in Sweden were against so-called "Top Sites", portrayed as the second tier of that pyramid which were supplied content from The Scene.

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