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Illegal download portal shut down after authorities conduct nationwide raids

After raids which took place in 13 German states on Wednesday and Thursday in an investigation into an illegal download portal, authorities have blocked usenetrevolution.info - a platform that is believed to have caused millions of euros in losses.

Illegal download portal shut down after authorities conduct nationwide raids
File photo: DPA.

During the raids which took place across the country, the apartments of 42 suspects were searched and the servers in the suspects’ homes were shut down, the attorney general's office in Frankfurt said on Friday.

Pirated copies of films, music, computer games, software and e-books which were distributed via the German-language portal were also blocked in the crackdown. Authorities moreover confiscated numerous computers, data carriers and network technologies.

Usenetrevolution.info went offline on Wednesday.

Investigators believe a 49-year-old man from Hesse is one of the prime operators of the platform. According to authorities, he was supported by his 39-year-old wife and three middle-aged men from Hesse – four other people who are suspected of moderating the site.

The rest of the suspects are between the ages of 23 and 72, according to a police report.

A total of 27,000 members had recently downloaded illegal content from usenetrevolution.info.

As a result, the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt report that copyright owners are expected to have incurred losses of at least €2.9 million. Current investigations are being conducted on the grounds of the unauthorized commercial exploitation of copyrighted material.

A few of the portal’s servers were reportedly located outside of Germany as well. With the help of the state criminal police office in Hesse, two servers – one located in the Netherlands and another in France – were also shut down.

CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

One person was injured on Thursday when shots were fired in a school in the northern German city of Bremerhaven, police said, adding that they had arrested the suspected gunman.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The shooting happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured person was not a pupil, police said, adding that the person been taken to hospital.

“Students are in their classrooms with their teachers. The police have the situation on the ground under control,” the statement added.

Bremerhaven police tweeted that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said the person injured on Thursday was a woman who worked at the school.

They said a school pupil heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils reportedly barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children, local media reported. 

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

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