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

Daniel Goldberg, Linus Larsson | Feb. 19, 2013
Peter Sunde was the poster boy for the file sharing movemen, then he was sentenced to eight months prison and fined millions of dollars

But first: Lunch. Our next stop is the all-vegan Chinese restaurant around the corner. "The owner runs a religious cult. They're insane, but the food is really good," Sunde tells us. A few minutes later he's tucking into a plate of Sichuan tofu and vegetable spring rolls. Between mouthfuls, we talk about Gottfrid "Anakata" Svartholm Warg and Fredrik "Tiamo" Neij, two of his co-defendants in the case.

The verdict handed down in November 2010 marked the end of one of the most talked-about court cases in the history of the Internet. The story of the Swedish pirates who gave Hollywood the finger transformed Sunde, Svartholm Warg and Neij into superstars. They travelled the world, and were photographed for glossy magazines. ("Pirates of the Multiplex" was the headline on a 2007 feature in Vanity Fair, that included pictures of Gottfrid and Fredrik, posing like rock stars next to the Pirate Bay servers.) The group enraged the film industry with cocky and profane retorts to a constant barrage of cease-and-desist-letters.

Sometimes, the three men were made out as villains and crooks; other times as heroes. But they were always seen as a tight-knit group of close friends, firmly set on changing the world. Nothing, Sunde says, could be farther from the truth. In reality, they hated each other: "We could hardly be in the same room together. Except when we worked on The Pirate Bay. Then everything sort of clicked into place," he says.

Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi was born in 1978 in the small Swedish town of Uddevalla. His mother worked as a staff consultant for a large company, his father as a travelling mechanic. His brother, Mats Kolmisoppi, is today an award-winning poet and author. His parents divorced when he was eight years old, and he moved to Norway with his mother and brother.

Shortly thereafter, his mother fell ill. She was diagnosed with psychosis and began suffering from delusions. "We moved house all the time. It was her way of handling it. She thought that everything would get better if we just found a new place to live."

His mother's illness, and his dealings with the Swedish health care system, had a profound effect on him, he says. "She was given the wrong medication and treated with a lot of suspicion. People didn't seem to care that much about her. Maybe because she was a single woman with two kids to take care of."

Sunde is an outspoken socialist, perhaps a less controversial label in Sweden than in many other countries. He enjoys discussing climate change, vegetarianism and issues of equality. Can he trace his political views back to childhood? He says the frustration born from seeing his mother go without help led him to one fundamental conclusion: "If you're not the right kind of person, society won't give you the help you need."

 

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