- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BRUSSELS (AP) - Ten people have been arrested in raids across Europe against computer pirates who put illegal copies of movies and television series on the Internet, Belgian police said Wednesday.

Five of the arrests were made in Belgium, where the computer crime unit led an operation on Tuesday that fanned out over 12 other nations, including Britain, Germany, France and Sweden, said police spokeswoman Tine Hollevoet.

The raids neutralized 48 servers distributing illegal material, Hollevoet said.

In Belgium, the suspects in the illegal file-sharing networks were charged with membership in a criminal organization, computer fraud, hacking and piracy.

“They are between 25 and 30 years old and they knew what they were doing,” investigator Olivier Bogaert told The Associated Press. He said they were not seeking to maximize financial profit through their actions.

“They have the notion that all has to be free,” Bogaert said.

Swedish police, meanwhile, raided seven different locations for suspected file-sharing, including the web hosting company PRQ in Stockholm’s suburb of Solna, which has links to both The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s largest file-sharing venues, and whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

A Swedish police coordinator Paul Pinter said the raid against PRQ had nothing to do “either with The Pirate Bay or with WikiLeaks.”

The Pirate Bay has remained in operation despite guilty verdicts in 2009 copyright trial in Sweden, against four men accused of running or financing the site.

By Wednesday evening, all suspects rounded up in Sweden were freed, Pinter said.

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Associated Press writer Malin Rising contributed to this story from Stockholm.