Cyberbunker: The Criminal Underworld (2023) Movie Script

[ominous music playing]
- [helicopter blades whirring]
- [indistinct chatter on radio]
[news reporter 1, in German]
A huge underground bunker became home
to international criminal businesses.
[news reporter 2] Six hundred and fifty
police officers were deployed,
including special tactical units.
[indistinct chatter on radio]
[radio beeps]
[police officer 1]
Target 200 meters ahead.
[news reporter 3] The main suspect
is a 59-year-old man from the Netherlands.
[news reporter 4, in English]
A darknet guru called Herman Xennt.
[news reporter 5] He's like your 007
James Bond typical villain.
- [ominous music continues]
- [indistinct chatter on radio]
[helicopter blades whirring]
[music ends abruptly]
- [dramatic music playing]
- [police officer 1, in German] Go, go, go.
- Team one, advancing.
- [police officer 2] No one.
[indistinct chatter on radio]
[police officer 1] Advancing.
[music concludes]
[police officer 1]
Team one has reached lower floor.
[police officer 2]
Team one, come in, please.
Radio connection is bad.
[tense music playing]
[Xennt] I am sure that people like me
will have a big impact
on the future internet.
[computer beeping]
[Xennt] The problem, however,
is whether humanity is ready.
[music intensifies]
[music concludes]
[interviewer] Do you want to
make the world a better place?
Yes, of course.
Next question, please.
[interviewer] Do you see yourself
as a criminal?
No, not really.
[theme music playing]
[news reporter 1] A data center
exclusively for criminal businesses
worth millions.
[in English] It's called Cyberbunker.
Cyberbunker is a web hosting service.
[news reporter 2, in German]
At the center of this thriller is a bunker
that once belonged to the Bundeswehr.
[news reporter 3]
In the middle of Germany,
near Traben-Trarbach on the Moselle,
the cybercriminals operated
their international business.
An extraordinary blow against cybercrime.
Drugs and forged documents.
[news reporter 4, in English]
Illegal drugs, selling weapons.
The biggest cyberattack...
In internet history.
[Ed] These guys started out
being idealists,
they ended up being
more and more tarnished.
[theme music continues]
[Ed] What is happening
in this bunker?
[theme music concludes]
So, um, hello everybody.
I'm Kevin and I am one
of the dukes of Cyberbunker.
Uh, my official title
is Minister of Propaganda.
[ominous music playing]
[in German] I'm Michiel
and I was the manager of Cyberbunker.
[Sven, in English] We can't do it
on the record without the titles.
It doesn't have to be all the titles,
but at least
it has to have the prince in there.
I'm Prince Sven Olaf
of Cyberbunker Kamphuis,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Telecommunication, Transport,
and most recently also War.
Um, I'm the vice head of state
of the Republic Cyberbunker,
now acting head of state.
So, yep.
[Michiel, in German]
If I was to go back there now,
to right before the first visit
to Traben-Trarbach,
then I would have said...
"Don't go there, because...
it can't end well."
[elevator bell dings]
- [tranquil music playing]
- [birds chirping]
- [church bell ringing]
- [children shouting indistinctly]
[Patrice] Life in Traben-Trarbach
is usually peaceful.
We don't have the hustle
and bustle of a big city.
It's quite soothing for the soul.
But if I were
to be asked about the bunker,
what it is, I would have just said,
"It's the worst thing
that could possibly happen here."
[ominous music playing]
[Brbel] The bunker
everyone is talking about
is located on a mountain.
You can see an antenna, a fence,
and nothing else.
A green site.
[Patrice] From 2012, the bunker was empty.
And a buyer was then sought.
[Winfried] Until the news came
in 2013 it had been sold.
As a local journalist,
of course, you want to know.
Who's the buyer
and what do they want to do with it?
I did some research
and it turned out that he was a somewhat
dubious character in the online world.
The name I was given
was Herman Johan Xennt.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Hajo] There were many stories
swirling around him.
He had very long, blond hair.
He always wore a long coat.
But he showed up here as a businessman.
In 2013,
during a regular city council meeting,
Xennt presented his project.
He explained that he needed a bunker...
[Hajo]...that he was Dutch,
and had done this before.
"We need the rooms for our employees,
for the IT people."
"And it'll grow over time."
He then created what we now call
a cloud, or a data center, there.
And at the time, of course,
we thought it sounded exciting.
Silicon Valley, Traben-Trarbach, exactly.
Only smaller, why not?
PURCHASE CONTRAC[Patrice] But there wasn't jubilation
in the council
that a buyer had been found.
As the city council,
we couldn't prevent it anyway.
There were mixed feelings about it.
You just heard trucks going in
and out at night.
He had to get his equipment
into the bunker somehow, of course.
But, initially, it was sort of intangible.
[Hajo] There was also
a bit of Googling done in city hall.
"Who is this guy?
Where did he come from?"
And there was
some information already out there.
He already had skeletons in his closet.
There was something there.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Jrg] I'm Jrg Angerer,
Senior Public Prosecutor,
and I worked on the Cyberbunker case.
In 2013, I was called
by the Office of Criminal Investigation,
who told me
that Traben-Trarbach's municipal mayor
had got in touch to say
that someone wanted to move
into a former NATO bunker
that was being sold,
and that he had already been involved
in shady business in Holland.
That was the initial tip.
[Tim] I'm Tim Henkel.
I'm a cybercrime investigator
for Rhineland-Pfalz Criminal Police.
I'd just completed training and was
taking my first steps as a police officer.
It all started in 2013.
My supervisor back then informed me
that there was a case there
and asked me if I'd be interested
in taking part in this operation,
which I thought was extremely exciting
and I was very excited, of course.
We first conducted
online investigations into this Dutchman,
into his past...
and first did some research into
who we were dealing with.
[sinister music playing]
[automated voice as Xennt, in English]
Xennt is a very huge part of Cyberbunker.
He was the head behind this.
It was born actually in Cyberbunker One
in the Netherlands
where we had our first bunker.
[in Dutch] Well, this is the bunker.
If you come in with me quickly...
then I can also show you the inside.
[in English] First time I've met Xennt,
I think it was above ground actually.
[in Dutch] So, this is the rear entrance.
You can see the spacious entrance
with two diesel air vent filters.
[in English] It's kind of like
a cross-mixture between Steve Jobs and um...
the guy from Star Trek. Yeah.
[speaks indistinctly in Dutch]
[in German]
He had this fascination for bunkers.
[in Dutch] So, I think
if this videotape continues as it is,
bad bits like this shot will be cut out.
We'll only keep the good bits
and then you'll see
the progress of the renovation
of a bunker, a small nuclear bunker,
into a bunker with a...
classy appearance,
which makes you think
you're in a space station or something.
So, there you have it.
You're welcome to keep looking around.
[cell phone ringing]
[cell phone chimes]
[Guido, in English]
Well, my name is Guido Blaauw
and everything I provide,
everything I say,
can and may be used in the documentary.
[pensive music playing]
[Guido] On one hand,
Xennt is a very warm person,
a very gentle person,
very nice to talk to.
And on the other hand,
he is just this hardcore criminal,
making money over everything he can.
[upbeat synth music playing]
[presenter 1] In 1995,
some ten million people
regularly use the internet.
What's attracted many of them
is the World Wide Web.
That early period of the internet
was full of this idea
that perhaps, you know,
the world was gonna really change
for the better because of this new tool.
Nice of you to join us.
[Ed] Xennt understood the internet,
kind of right in the core of it.
Understood its possibilities.
This growing world,
which was called online,
which was still kind of mysterious
to lots of people.
[presenter 2] Anyone with a computer
and a modem can join in.
[Ed] Xennt had a store
which was just selling computers.
Very early days of personal computers.
[Guido] He made
a good amount of money with that.
He bought himself a Lamborghini...
um, and...
and he had money to buy a bunker.
["Only Love Can Break Your Heart" playing]
[Guido] When I was in there
two hours with him and we came outside,
I said, "Xennt, I'm in love,"
and he said,
"Well, I had exactly the same thing
when I visited this bunker
for the first time,
I was completely in love."
When you were young and on your own...
For some unknowable reason,
he loved bunkers.
He and some friends moved in.
There was some work you have to do to...
And that work
was under construction when I joined.
[in Dutch] See, there it is,
and it works too. Follow me.
But only love can break your heart
Try to be sure right from the start...
[Guido, in English] It was
the most ideal and most fantasy-rich
possible location you can imagine.
[Sven] He actually thinks that
you can make a bunker
look like a spaceship.
I keep telling him
it will never fly away but... [laughs]
Yeah, but, you know, spacey doors.
[imitates door opening, closing]
He hides his head inside a dream...
They were programmers,
early adopters of the technology,
thinking about the internet
in this deep way.
[Martijn] It was like
a community of people brought together
from all kinds of backgrounds
using the bunker
as a kind of center of gravity for...
you know, doing weird
and funny stuff on the internet.
[Guido] It was a group of friends,
a bunch of hackers
having the best time of their lives.
[Sven] The internet, back in those days,
you could just do whatever you want.
You also could not call the police
if something happened
that you didn't want to happen
because the police
simply didn't understand any of it.
But the internet had to be paid somehow.
What paid for the internet?
[song distorts, concludes]
- Porn. [laughs]
- [ominous music playing]
[Ed] They had a bunch of servers,
they were hosting porn websites.
All websites have to be
physically hosted somewhere
on a computer or on a server.
And that's what hosting is,
you're giving a home to a website.
[Guido] If you have
a few porn hosters in your data center,
it's a cash cow
because it generates so much traffic
and that's what a data center
gets its money from.
[Ed] At some point,
they named this company Cyberbunker.
[Guido] That was always his... his dream.
It's a very nice location.
It was a very nice location.
It's ruins.
[Sven] They were shouting,
"The bunker is on fire,"
and I'm like, "Nah."
"Nah, bunkers can't burn."
[Ed] The emergency services
were called and what they found
in the wake of that fire
was a burnt-out ecstasy lab.
[sinister music playing]
What the hell is going on?
You know,
is this guy involved in illegal stuff?
[Ed] At a certain point,
presumably to make some extra money,
Xennt sublet a portion of the bunker
to another group.
Xennt said that he knew nothing
about what was going on.
He had simply sublet the space
and what they did was their own business.
And eventually the police had no choice
but to accept his version of events.
[tense music playing]
[Sven] We could basically
throw away everything
that was in there.
That was a bit of a problem. Yeah.
[Martijn] There was a bunker burned down.
He was not capable
of building it up again.
Several people chasing him
for the fact that he owed them money.
He needed to move on.
He needed to find a new identity.
And that's what he found in Germany,
in new Cyberbunker, his new kingdom.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Martijn] It made me realize
that Xennt was still doing
what he was doing before,
that he was involved with things
that you would normally
not show to the outer world.
And that needed to be stopped.
[tense music playing]
[Martijn] So, my name is Martijn Burger.
I've been
in the internet business of things
for quite a long time.
As a business partner of Xennt,
I worked closely together with him.
I was probably the right person
to help him
to achieve a structured organization.
It was not like a thing I was used to
in a corporate structure,
in a company structure,
you know, it was like...
a zoo... [chuckles] be honest.
At a certain moment in time,
Xennt was saying,
"Martijn, I throw you out."
And that's what more
or less triggered my reaction.
I started investigating him,
the organizations,
and the people surrounding him,
because I felt
that some things were not correct.
I reached out to the authorities
and tried to make them interested,
aware that they
should further investigate this
and get into the details
of what they were doing.
[ominous music playing]
[Tim, in German] We believed
that Xennt fled the Netherlands
to evade the threat of prosecution there.
At that time, it was clear to us
he was doing the same thing here
as he'd done in the Netherlands.
That was the start of our investigation.
At the start,
we used classic observation
in order to gain insights.
I don't believe
that the group were explicitly aware
that investigations against them
were underway.
[in English] Yeah, we knew
we were observated, but then again
everyone spies.
[in German] I'm just trying to think
of the best adjective to describe it.
The observation at the bunker site
was not successful.
[helicopter blades whirring]
[Jrg] We were not sure
exactly what was in the bunker.
The facility is huge
and we couldn't get to it.
[automated voice as Xennt, in English]
"I am a creator,
not a consumer."
"I will make the world
a better place to live in."
"I have more ideas
that I can possibly realize
in this lifetime."
"Anyone who like to share ideas
or wants to join me
in one or more project
is welcome to contact me."
[drone whirring]
[pensive music playing]
[in German] The people
who came to Cyberbunker
were searching for something.
[in English] There was a time
where I was having a really tough time
with my relationship back then,
and my workplace was about to stop.
The first time I entered the site,
I was astonished by the scale of the base.
They showed me around.
I got a room there to stay in.
Then the question arose,
"Would you like to join the team?"
And then I said, "Yeah, of course."
I was happy to do so.
[in German] There was a sort of
world there, that you could only imagine
if you let your imagination run wild
and read about something like it.
But it was there, it was real.
Xennt gave you a sense
that something special
was being built there.
He had this aura of a visionary,
his ideas were good.
He wanted to start
a software development center.
This is a huge project going on here.
It's really big.
A bit like a mini Silicon Valley.
[Kevin, in English]
The main bunker itself, it's huge.
It consists of five different floors.
We have the first level
where we had our electronics lab
and a little kitchen.
In the second level,
we all had our offices
for our day-to-day businesses.
On the third level was the server level.
On the fourth level,
you would have power and air,
and then you had a fifth level,
and that was just utilities.
When you are above ground,
the world can kind of disturb you.
But the moment when you enter the bunker
and you go around the corner,
the only people
that can talk to you or disturb you
are the people
that are inside of the bunker.
[Michiel, in German]
You feel like you're locked in.
That's when you experience this silence.
[music stops]
[Michiel] And then,
you immediately also realize
that true silence doesn't exist.
Because you hear your blood rushing.
[heart beating]
[pensive music playing]
[Kevin, in English]
It was a very beautiful place
to come to your senses and to work in.
[Michiel, in German] You felt
very secure there, very comfortable.
Work was good, living was good,
I felt very at home.
- [water running]
- [cutlery clicking]
[Kevin, in English]
We always had breakfast together
and we always had supper together.
It took some time for people
to get to know you and to accept you.
But when that happened
we had each other's backs.
[indistinct chatter]
[Michiel, in German]
Most of the time, everything was relaxed.
There was laughter, joking around.
[Ed, in English] They were living there.
It wasn't just where they worked.
This was a key part of their identity.
They were in the bunker.
[Kevin] It was a real open atmosphere
that was really welcoming
and then warming.
A real digital playground.
[Michiel, in German] It was
as though everyone had their own vision,
their own idea, and then joined together.
[electricity buzzing]
[ominous music playing]
[Kevin, in English]
Cyberbunker just goes out of the ideal
that the internet is a free place.
Freedom of the internet.
The reason why we did hosting
at Cyberbunker was to give people a place
to safely store
their data and their servers.
We will provide you with a server.
[servers whirring]
[Kevin] And it's up to you to do
with the server what you want.
- [church bell tolling]
- [indistinct chatter]
[pensive music playing]
[Brbel, in German] Mr. Xennt had
an appointment and came into the salon.
He looked very fresh, very young.
He looked good.
Maybe it was his leather coat,
but I thought...
he's from another planet. He's different.
Then he chose
a very light blond, a cool blond,
and that's what he got.
He was silent and stared at the floor.
And I felt that it was a negative silence
and was actually very happy
when this gentleman left.
The bunker crew, sometimes it felt
as if a pirate ship was docking here,
the whole pirate crew ran through
the village, amusing themselves...
[chuckles]...then were suddenly
gone again and casted off.
You just wondered,
what's going on up there?
[ominous music playing]
[Patrice] You didn't know
who was up there.
What is he actually doing?
You didn't hear or see anything,
or know what was going on.
But there were rumors.
Maybe he's growing
some kind of drugs up there?
[dogs barking]
[Patrice] The other thing was his dogs,
which ran free all day long
and annoyed the community.
That was the final straw for me,
so I said, "No matter what,
I'm calling Mr. Xennt."
[ominous music continues]
[music concludes]
[Patrice] He was surprised, but he said,
"No problem, come on over."
He said, "Give me 15 minutes
to rein the dogs in,
but then come on over. No problem."
That was a positive starting point.
We went up there.
Mr. Xennt greeted us quite normally,
the atmosphere was very open.
Then he told us who he is,
what he does.
We said you can look around
anywhere you want.
Everything was open.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Patrice] Then we just went down,
level by level,
and he said,
"Open every door, I have nothing to hide."
I was relieved that the premises
weren't being used for anything suspicious
and that we didn't find a hemp plantation.
And suddenly you came
into a room that was really black.
[tense music playing]
[Patrice] Very cold, very austere.
It was definitely a bit strange.
What struck you immediately
was that there were no windows, of course.
You're practically floating
in time and space.
It was a very different
atmosphere in there.
Yeah, very unusual for me.
[drone whirring]
[Tim] Of course,
it wouldn't have helped if we'd rung
Cyberbunker's doorbell and asked,
"Mr. Xennt, can you show us
what's here and what you're up to?"
That is where protecting the case
comes first and takes priority.
For us, it was very important
to stay out of sight
and ensure they didn't realize
we were conducting an investigation.
[radio static hissing]
[Tim] Telephone surveillance
is a very intensive measure.
You enter the other person's
day-to-day life.
The group is very secretive,
and, of course, we had to find ways
to get information from the inner circle.
[ominous music playing]
[phone ringing]
- [Mr. Green, in English] Hello?
- [caller 1] Hello.
[Mr. Green] Yeah. The suits.
Were the suits all right?
[caller 1] Yeah, they're perfect and fit.
You know, they're these special fabrics.
They can change color
when exposed to sunlight,
so you have to check how good they are.
[Mr. Green] That's no problem.
[caller 1] We have to talk about behavior.
[Tim, in German] The Cyberbunker group
spoke in a very coded way.
For example, "boxes of oranges,"
or various types of furniture.
It was colors of ships,
it was suits of various changing colors.
[Mr. Green, in English] Hello.
I just found the oranges. Tell me more.
[caller 1] So, this happened.
He received 700 boxes of oranges,
and they are at the right place.
And now he needs 350 more
to make full charge.
[Jrg, in German] So, when people
make these kinds of phone calls,
it's clear something is up.
That's not how people talk.
The codification of language
and terminology.
which was revealed
through the telephone surveillance,
created big problems for us.
Ultimately, we couldn't identify crimes
through telephone surveillance,
but the gang's structure became clear.
It started
with the leadership team around Xennt
and the manager, Rugers.
Then there were IT workers
who worked in the bunker.
There was a guard,
who also cooked for the staff.
It was clear that Mr. Xennt gave orders
and others did what he said,
but the role of the others
wasn't 100% clear at the beginning.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Tim] However, for us,
the key was the servers.
"What is on these servers?"
"What data is going in and out of there?"
[keyboard clacking]
[tense music playing]
[Martin] With Cyberbunker,
the advantage was
that cybercriminals felt safe.
When you went onto Cyberbunker,
it was pretty clear what it was for.
It had a picture of a bunker.
Which I assumed was total bull,
if I'm honest, I didn't think it was real.
There was an FBI raid team on it,
trying to get into that bunker.
Cyberbunker was known in the scene
as a so-called "bulletproof hoster."
Bulletproof hosting,
that means, no matter what happens,
the servers stay online.
[in English] What made Cyberbunker
different from other service providers
is the fact that we guaranteed privacy.
[in German]
Cyberbunker was really the place to go
for anyone in the scene
who wanted to host questionable
or illegal content.
The bunker specifically advertised
that it hosts everything,
except child pornography and terrorism.
This made you think,
whoever advertises in that way
isn't looking for legal customers.
[in English] We simply
do not know ourselves
what the clients
are doing with our servers.
[in German] Xennt always said
we're doing nothing wrong,
everything is legal.
[in English] Michiel comes up to me.
"Yeah, we are this internet provider
and we have customers
that are all banks and lawyers."
Right, Michiel. [laughs]
[pensive music playing]
[Martijn] It was a kind of fantasy world
that Xennt created.
Where he pulled them in.
He was very good in selling his story
and creating a kind of overall enthusiasm.
He was a huge fan of freedom of speech.
He wanted to give back the internet
to the people, the world.
[Ed] They believed the internet
allowed people to have greater freedoms
than perhaps existed in the real world.
I don't think that all of them shared
a whole world view.
Certainly, Sven Kamphuis
was more extreme than the others.
He's a strange character.
[uplifting instrumental music playing]
[music concludes]
The Republic of Cyberbunker was an idea
that was written down and is wild.
[upbeat rock music playing]
[Sven] Cyberbunker is the most
technologically advanced
and one of the richest countries
in the world. [laughs]
We actually declared independence.
[Guido] Sven just said, "Okay,
the Cyberbunker is NATO ground."
"There is no NATO anymore,
it's our ground,
so we now have
the Republic of Cyberbunker."
We don't want to be on your map.
We have our own society.
We have our own rules, we have our
own laws, we have our own everything.
It's hilarious that, you know,
they declare their own king.
[Guido] Xennt is the king of Cyberbunker.
Sven is the prince of Cyberbunker.
The king is also the president,
and the crown prince, which is me,
is also the vice head of state,
aka the vice president.
[Guido] Sven said,
"I will create passports."
He even drove around with number plates.
It was a country in a country.
It's half playful and half serious.
[Guido] It was all created by Sven.
It was all fantasy.
So, no one took it seriously.
[music concludes]
[interviewer] What is your title?
Uh, my title is Duke of Cyberbunker
and Minister of Propaganda.
I think that's it.
Yes, member of government,
but that's evidentially.
The best country in the world. [laughs]
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[pensive music playing]
[Guido] Sven,
he looks like a chaotic weirdo.
But if he wants,
he can shut up the internet.
Really. If he wants.
He did some very rare
and stupid things on the internet.
He's capable of doing that.
He knows his way to intrude
into a company server.
He's that kind of guy.
[audio glitches]
[dramatic music playing]
[news reporter 1]
Has your internet seemed sluggish?
[news reporter 2] The war that's slowing
everything down, including Netflix.
If you're thinking the internet
is running a little slowly lately,
you're not imagining it.
The web is in the midst
of what's being called
the biggest cyberattack of all time.
[news reporter 4] It usually only takes
Shannon Lee a few seconds
to access her movies on Netflix,
but minutes go by
and the screen stays black.
It's slowing down connection speeds
all across the globe.
But who's behind it?
China? North Korea?
[news reporter 5] It's actually rooted in
an argument between two European groups.
Spamhaus, that block spam,
and Cyberbunker,
a company that hosts websites.
[news reporter 6]
Spamhaus is based in Europe.
They're an internet spam watchdog.
What they do is
they create spam data filters.
Cyberbunker were blacklisted by Spamhaus
because Spamhaus said too many
of the companies they were hosting
were sending too much of this stuff out.
So, the problem that we have with Spamhaus
is that they try
to control parts of the internet.
And with control, let's say,
that they have the power
to block your IP addresses.
That site, Spamhaus,
has power that it shouldn't have
because the internet
should be an open place.
[Guido] So, it was a real pain in the ass
for the clients of the Cyberbunker
and Sven was fighting them for it.
[Sven] And then we started to, like,
figure out ways
how we could get rid of this problem.
One of the suggestions, obviously,
was to just get rid of the guy as a whole,
but, you know, some people just like
to play with their food.
[tense techno music playing]
We tried to use diplomacy
to get them to stop blocking them.
They just said, "No."
And then Cyberbunker said,
"Okay, we'll see about that."
And the rest is history.
A battle is waging across the internet.
The biggest cyberattacks... internet history.
[Guido] Sven went just completely berserk.
[news reporter 1]
Huge, concentrated data streams
were sent out over the internet,
slowing down connections
around the world.
Security experts fear
that this is just the beginning.
[suspenseful music playing]
That attack is so big,
it's affecting everyone online.
SPAM DISPUTE SLOWS THE INTERNEThe internet, hit with the virtual
equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
Some are saying essentially it's attacking
the very structure of the internet.
See, this is why you do not get
on the bad side of hackers.
I love you hackers. You're wonderful.
You're all great. [chuckles nervously]
We can now get in touch
with Sven Olaf Kamphuis.
He's a spokesman for Cyberbunker.
Now, you are being accused
of this massive cyberattack.
Is somebody gonna be held account?
Could somebody go to prison over this?
Could somebody be fined?
Is this gonna be resolved?
I doubt that the people
that did the attacks
are in any country where doing
a DDoS attack is illegal
or where they can even be found.
So... [laughs]
Not much issues there.
[ominous music playing]
[news reporter, in Spanish]
Police in Barcelona have arrested
a 35-year-old Dutch activist
who was responsible for
the largest DDoS cyberattack in history.
The investigation started in March...
[Sven, in English] At that point,
I was driving in an orange thing
with all my crap in the back
and then I went to Spain
during this entire operation.
[Ed] He was arrested
and he is eventually processed
in the Netherlands
under criminal charges.
I was convicted not
on a criminal organization
because they couldn't prove
that I was in charge
of the operation at any time.
[ominous music continues]
There simply is no law against it.
[laughs] Done.
[Ed] He believes in total freedom.
In his mind, you should be able
to do anything on the internet.
But, you know, how that shakes out is,
it means that he's...
you know, seems to espouse
for the worst things in the world
to be on the internet.
[interviewer] So,
is there anything you wouldn't host?
No, there was not anything
I would not host.
[sinister music playing]
The "except for"
is something Xennt made up.
Xennt came up with the "except for,"
I don't have the "except for."
Sven felt above the law, in many ways.
With the knowledge he has,
he can be dangerous.
- [birds squawking]
- [suspenseful music playing]
[Tim, in German] We also
then reached a point where we said,
"Okay, how can
we gather more intelligence now?"
In 2017, we decided to carry out
a so-called network node monitoring.
This means we recorded the data center's
incoming and outgoing data traffic.
[Jrg] If crimes were committed there,
they'd show up in the network traffic.
The intention of the surveillance
was to see
what was being done in the bunker.
What data was going in and out?
What was illegal and what wasn't?
[suspenseful music continues]
[Tim] We didn't expect the sheer quantity
that we got from our surveillance.
[dramatic music playing]
[computer chimes]
[Tim] We established that
on the Cyberbunker servers,
phishing sites were hosted,
large-scale hacker attacks were committed,
narcotics stores were running.
It was the first
really effective investigation.
We had clear results, clear sites.
Really potent criminal sites.
None of these criminals
could operate their sites,
if they didn't have a hoster
to provide servers for them to do so.
You have to realize that there
are always real crimes behind it.
[Tim] We determined that,
for example,
Wall Street Market was hosted there,
the largest darknet market at the time
for drugs, weapons, other illegal goods.
[Martin] I'm Martin Frost.
I was one of the operators
of Wall Street Market.
This marketplace was one
of the largest in the world.
In my opinion, Cyberbunker offered
a very professional hosting service,
um... [chuckles] an extent, even better
than what I see in the legal sphere.
For us, that was pretty much the reason
we went there and stayed.
On Wall Street Market,
you found pretty much anything.
Starting with marijuana
to MDMA, cocaine or heroin.
The fact that you're far removed
from all these events,
from the production process,
dealing and things on the streets,
you're really far away from it.
You're just sitting at your computer.
At first, you don't see organized crime,
they operate in a different way.
I do believe though that in recent years
organized crime
has also increasingly caught on. "Hey."
"These are new distribution channels."
And, of course, they use them too.
- [radio static]
- [menacing music playing]
[phone ringing]
[caller 1, in English] Hello?
[caller 2] Hello.
I'm calling on behalf of Mr. Green.
I mean, George.
George has found a new apartment
near Traben-Trarbach.
[caller 1] All right.
[indistinct chatter over radio]
[caller 2] Hello. I'm calling
on behalf of Mr. Green.
I mean, George.
[caller 1] All right.
[Tim, in German] Then suddenly
a whole new name appeared
in the telephone surveillance.
[in English] "Mr. Green."
[pensive music playing]
[Nicola] My name sounds so funny
when you say it in German. [chuckles]
[indistinct chatter]
Tallant. Yeah.
My name is Nicola Tallant
and I am a crime journalist from Ireland.
Ireland is a place
that has been blighted by drugs.
[somber music playing]
[Nicola] There are a number of gangs.
We've had a number of very significant
murderous feuds
over the past few decades.
Mr. Green is actually an alias
and, uh, it's an alias that has been used
for quite a long time, um,
but the individual behind it, of course,
is George Mitchell AKA The Penguin.
[ominous music playing]
[Nicola] To me,
he is the ultimate godfather of crime.
[news reporter] For almost 20 years now,
George Mitchell has played a leading role
in running drugs into Ireland and Britain,
but he's also been up to his fat neck
in major robberies and arms smuggling.
[Nicola] Within the criminal underworld,
he is definitely a feared character.
For 20 years,
George Mitchell hadn't been photographed,
he hadn't been seen.
Everybody wanted to track him down,
but he had literally gone into darkness
and we weren't getting
very much information about him.
Obviously, we could see
that he was still operating.
We knew his networks
in Ireland and they were very active.
But any leads we followed
had come to nothing.
- And then one day, I got lucky...
- [music ends abruptly]
...and a tip came in.
And George Mitchell, I was told,
was in, of all places, Germany.
We came upon this town called
Traben-Trarbach, in Germany,
which just looked so unlikely.
[tense music playing]
[Nicola] It's just the last place
in the world you'd expect to see,
or to find, a godfather of crime.
We drove around a bit,
drove up to this Cyberbunker place
to have a little look.
[Nicola, in car] I don't think
we'll be able to use any of this.
I think turn and get out.
It's not worth the risk now.
We had a little look up around the bunker.
[investigator] Can I use that camera
for a sec? No, the other camera.
[camera shutter clicking]
[Nicola] We knew
that he was hanging out with Xennt,
but that he didn't like
doing that up in the bunker
because he was nervous
and claustrophobic when he went in.
So, they were having business meetings,
but they were having them in coffee shops
and in restaurants in the town.
The information I had got
was that Mitchell was staying
in a waterside apartment,
we didn't know which one.
And when he was in town,
most days, they would take a car.
There was a very distinctive
registration plate on it.
It was something with BOBO on it.
They are gonna pass me here.
[Nicola] A couple of days
into the job, sure enough,
the BOBO car appeared.
And it pulled up
outside an apartment complex.
And this kind of older guy came out,
a man who didn't look
as big as I was expecting,
rushed along to the car
and got into the back of it.
[camera shutter clicking]
[Nicola] As the car pulled away,
we looked at the back of the camera,
blew up the image
and sure enough, it was George Mitchell.
[suspenseful music playing]
I was speechless for a while...
uh, and then I was...
Okay, I was absolutely delighted.
I couldn't believe
that we'd finally tracked him down.
And once we'd one image of him,
we knew where he was,
it was like a playground, Traben-Trarbach.
[upbeat indie song playing]
Oh, you done got away
It don't bother me no more
- Gotta catch that flight
- Gonna catch that flight...
[Nicola] We wanted to try
and get as much as we possibly could.
Catch that flight...
[Nicola] I had no idea
whether he had backup,
whether he had spotters working for him,
which is usually the case.
But the more
we discretely followed Mitchell,
it appeared he didn't.
It appeared that he just really had
Xennt with him.
Gonna catch that flight...
[Nicola] I wanted to approach him.
I wanted to put a few questions to him
and get up close and personal with him.
[song fades]
We seemed to make our way down the street.
And from memory, um,
they came out of this shoe shop.
[indistinct chatter]
Yeah, okay, no.
Tell them exactly what's happening here.
- [tense music playing]
- [George] Okay.
- [Nicola] Hiya.
- [George] Hi!
[Nicola] How's it going?
George, quick word?
- How are you?
- Very good.
[Nicola] Good.
Haven't seen you in a long time.
[Nicola] You settled in here?
He looked up,
and he was sort of surprised.
I think I asked him how he was,
or something like that.
He heard the Dublin accent,
and he sort of said, for a second,
"I'm grand, I'm grand. Yeah."
And then he just took a minute
and he looked in under my baseball cap
and he just went, "Fuck off."
[sinister music playing]
[Nicola] Last time we heard from you,
you said you were
a legitimate businessman.
Do you want to confirm that?
The gardai in Ireland are still interested
in speaking to you,
in relation to drug trafficking.
Have you anything to say about that?
They were going... [chuckles]
"...Who is she?"
- Get enough? We've stopped traffic.
- [car horns honking]
[Nicola] I don't think Xennt knew
what the hell was going on.
I think he was surprised
that I knew his name.
- Herman, is it?
- What's that, Mdchen?
[Nicola] Is that your name?
[suspenseful music playing]
[Nicola] To me, he looked like a villain
out of a James Bond movie.
In my game,
you've only got
a very short window of opportunity
before you push it too far.
We needed to get out of town
at that point.
That was it. The job was over.
[dramatic music playing]
[Nicola] I was told
that this relationship with Herman Xennt
dated way back to when
Mitchell first arrived in Amsterdam.
I certainly have reporting that suggests
that George Mitchell and Xennt
were in contact in the late '90s.
George Mitchell ended up getting arrested
for handling stolen computer parts.
Note also that Xennt had
a computer business.
[Nicola] I could sort of see connections.
I just presumed
George was just the finance man.
I didn't expect that he'd understand
the nitty-gritty of it.
[Nicola] Knowing now what we know
about the Cyberbunker,
I really do feel
that I had only scratched the surface.
I think this story
was maybe something that moved
the watching brief by authorities
in Germany to a new level.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Tim, in German]
When a person like George Mitchell
shows up in a preliminary investigation,
someone with ties to the Irish mafia,
who's also linked to homicides there,
who is synonymous with major drugs
and arms trafficking,
that, of course,
changes the dynamics of the case a lot.
[in English] So, if you put bits
and pieces together like the ecstasy lab,
fire, Xennt escaping to Germany,
buying another bunker,
providing data services
to external customers...
Irish mobsters being involved...
Sven being involved
in DDoS attacks on a global scale,
hosting black markets,
it becomes such a big story,
so many elements,
that you really have to dig deep
into it to create a bigger picture.
[tense music playing]
[Leroy] My name is Leroy Shelton.
I'm a supervisory special agent
with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I've been with the FBI for ten years,
all with the Cyber Division.
And in 2017,
I worked the biggest, most sophisticated
cyber investigation of my career,
and it involved Cyberbunker.
[tense music continues]
[Leroy] In the fall of 2017,
we opened an investigation
into Wall Street Market.
The 6,500 vendors on that market
sold drugs to 1.1 million users.
[Martin, in German]
So, if we're talking about
the drug section on Wall Street Market,
there was everything
that the market had to offer.
From grass to MDMA, cocaine,
and also, fentanyl, for example.
[in English]
The painkiller, fentanyl, is now
the number one killer drug in the U.S.
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.
[Juju] The battle against
a deadly narcotic.
Fentanyl is taking the opioid epidemic
to a new level of urgency.
The connection between fentanyl
and opioids in the darknet
can be summed up in two words,
which is access and convenience.
You can order your drug of choice
on the darknet and it'll be delivered
to your doorstep
just like an Amazon product.
Half the deaths from overdoses that
we're seeing right now in America
are caused
by the synthetic opioid, fentanyl.
It is a significant problem.
As part of my investigation
into Wall Street Market
and following the cookie crumbs,
I uncovered multiple IP addresses
and learned that they belonged
to the Cyberbunker in Germany
belonging to Herman Xennt.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Martin, in German]
The servers are secure.
They have a "no matter what" service.
I was never afraid
the authorities would catch us.
[Leroy, in English]
We ended up sending a... what we call
a foreign dissemination request
to our embassy
to request assistance
from the German authorities
and to see if we could get their intrigue
on helping us with this investigation.
[music fades]
[Tim, in German] We were often contacted
during the investigative process,
including by internationally
operating agencies in the USA.
It certainly helps
the investigation process
when high-profile players,
like Wall Street Market,
are hosted in the data center.
Our approach to the investigation process
was to operate with lasting effect.
That doesn't mean achieving quick success
by shutting down some narcotics store,
but to take this Cyberbunker offline
permanently and to do it with evidence.
But how do we gain access
to these servers?
How do we get into this bunker?
[suspenseful music playing]
[server whirring]
[cell phone vibrating]
[Michiel] On the Cyberbunker website,
there was a special page,
a volunteer program
where Cyberbunker
was searching for people
who would join the Cyberbunker team
on a voluntary basis.
We needed really good people.
[cell phone buzzing]
[Michiel] Someone responded to the ad.
Harry was a really great guy.
Young, really nice, spontaneous,
friendly and decent too.
He said he'd like, um,
to do something,
if possible, such as gardening.
[Michiel] That was interesting to Xennt
because Harry didn't want to get paid.
He just asked if he could sleep there.
And for Xennt, that was ideal, of course.
[in English] Harry, the gardener,
joined multiple times, drinking beers.
[in German] I think everyone liked him.
So, you could almost call it friendship.
[music fades]
[in English] Michiel, a volunteer program.
We used to only get people
that we already knew for a couple of years
and then we brought them
to the base, blindfolded.
And here comes Michiel,
"Oh yeah, let's have a volunteer program."
"Yeah, we're so desperate
to get a couple of people in, you know."
Why don't you just ask the NSA
if they can send some people over,
maybe they'll bring
their own coffee as well. [laughs]
[suspenseful music playing]
[voice actor as agent reading prompt]
"On his computer screen,
I could see quite a number of shots
from surveillance camera installations
throughout the site."
"Next to him, on the desk,
was a large machete."
"I asked him about it."
"The guard just smiled and said,
'That's for uninvited guests.'"
[unsettling music playing]
[voice actor as agent] "To me,
the guard often seemed very aggressive."
"He told me that due to his past,
he could smell 'pigs.'"
[music fades]
[interviewer, in German]
He couldn't though.
Not this pig anyway.
[up-tempo instrumental music playing]
[Jrg] I certainly think it's careless
to openly post job ads
for a criminal bunker.
That's how we got a man
into the compound itself.
- [birds cawing]
- [suspenseful music playing]
[voice actor as agent, in English]
"Xennt led me behind the bunker personally
and showed me where I should start work."
"He said I should plant a few spruces
because he'd always really wanted
an evergreen spruce wood."
[Tim, in German] Of course,
he has to generate empathy,
he has to be able to build trust
and that only works if he's
approachable and he acts interested.
[voice actor as agent, in English]
"If I enjoyed the work, I'd also
be welcome to stay."
"Michiel sent me
a message via WhatsApp."
"On Friday evening, we're having a party
and it'd be great if you could come."
"Let me know if you can make it,
we'd be delighted if you could!"
"You're one of us and it'd be a real shame
if you weren't there."
[unsettling music playing]
[voice actor as agent]
"One evening, there was a barbecue."
"The group sat
around the campfire for hours,
and each of them
had a laptop in their lap."
[keyboard clacking]
[voice actor as agent]
"They were working the entire time."
"At least, that's what they said."
[unsettling music continues
[Michiel, in German] It was always nice.
Harry slowly became part of the family.
[Tim] The undercover investigator
provided us with valuable information.
For the first time,
we were able to precisely identify
who held which role in Cyberbunker.
Who was in charge,
what the dynamics were like.
[Martijn, in English]
I don't think they are really friends.
I think they need each other.
[suspenseful music playing]
Cyberbunker is freedom,
privacy and friendship.
For me.
[in German] The majority of them
also lived up there,
were paid a very small salary,
so were practically working for free,
just for food and lodgings but...
they were pretty much
failed existences.
Apart from the fact that we weren't paid,
there was nothing to complain about,
everything was great.
It was really good.
I felt at home there and safe, etc.
Well, purposeful.
[tense techno music playing]
[in English] Michiel basically
was trying to replace everyone with people
that he brought in
through his volunteers' program,
so that he could better
basically control them or something.
I don't know. He was up to something
and it wasn't in our interests.
[Tim, in German] Although
we had already taken many steps,
we had no one
with eyes on the bunker itself.
But we wanted to see behind this door.
It would attract attention
if the undercover agent
went inside the bunker.
That wouldn't fit his cover story
as a gardener.
[voice actor as agent, in English]
"On the morning of the 20th of December,
2018, the bunker guard called me."
"He asked me if I knew
a cheap cleaning lady
from Eastern Europe."
"They'd been looking
for a cleaning lady for a while,
but no one from Traben-Trarbach wanted
to work in the bunker."
[in German] It just so happened
that we knew someone.
The female undercover investigator's
name was Julia.
Part of the cover story was that Julia
was Harry, the gardener's, girlfriend.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Michiel] I think
we walked through the bunker once,
and explained roughly what had to be done.
She worked,
was kind, friendly and warm.
I can't remember anything
negative about her whatsoever.
[pensive music playing]
[Jrg] I was somewhat skeptical
and not really in favor of it at first.
The dangers of sending a woman, alone,
into a hermetically sealed bunker facility
that can't be accessed from outside,
and in which active criminals live,
are pretty obvious, I think.
It's not something
you're wild about doing.
[foreboding music playing]
[Jrg] She was left to clean
the offices unsupervised.
Every floor, every room
was accessible to her, unsupervised.
She had a key for every room.
It was strange, they basically
didn't want any money at all.
And then Xennt said,
"Maybe they're actually just police."
[music intensifies]
[Michiel] But it was implausible.
Harry had been there
such a long time already.
And so it was.
[tense music playing]
[camera shutter clicking]
[Tim] There were hundreds of photos...
of the bunker, from different rooms.
Various lists of passwords
were photographed.
[Jrg] You could really see where people
had their room, where the servers were,
where other equipment was,
how things were secured.
[Tim] We had the network node
surveillance running,
we had the undercover investigator.
We could see inside the bunker.
The last piece of the puzzle.
[Jrg] We had enough
to give us ideas about how to gain access.
[tense music heightens, fades]
[helicopter blades whirring]
[unsettling music playing]
[in English] Xennt has loved bunkers
since he visited a Second World War bunker
in Arnhem as a kid.
He wanted to kind of recreate
that futuristic feeling where he lived.
Which was in these strange
underground caverns.
He was this kind of cyber Peter Pan
who just refuses to grow up.
[automated voice as Xennt]
One thing I have learned in the past,
there are many consumers
and there are only a few creators.
I am a creator, not a consumer.
Some people describe me as a workaholic,
but this is not true.
I simply cannot do nothing.
That's why
you will never find me at parties.
I think of them as a waste of time.
Many consumers
will destroy the work of creators
without any remorse.
That is why I have decided to create
a defensive protection around me.
[electricity buzzing]
[automated voice as Xennt]
"Anybody who do not share my ideas
is free to stay out of the way."
[tense music playing]
If half an army outside pops up,
that wants to have a fight with you,
then that's perfectly fine,
they can stand there
until the Earth comes crashing down.
[laughs] They won't get in.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Tim, in German] We had to make sure that,
at the time of the arrest,
there was no one in the actual bunker
who could shut down the servers.
[in English] We never left
the thing unguarded.
There was always at least someone there.
[drone whirring]
[Jrg, in German]
That's why it was clear
that the only option
would be to use a ruse
to lure the perpetrators out of the bunker
and then arrest them outside the bunker.
[voice actor as agent
reading prompt, in English]
[Kevin] The gardener asked us
if we would like
to join him to a restaurant
because he inherited some money
and he wanted to show his appreciation,
and stuff like that.
He wanted to buy us, uh, dinner.
[Tim, in German]
Harry called a restaurant
and reserved a table
for September 26th at 6:00 p.m.
For us it was end day, of course.
[Michiel] He really wanted
everyone to come, I still remember that.
"You all have to come!
You have to be there. He has to come too!"
He really did his best
to get everyone to come.
[voice actor as agent, in English]
"We discussed the evening meal again
and planned
who should travel in which car."
"We did a head count."
"Eleven people would be coming
to the restaurant."
[Tim, in German] We talked
to our undercover investigator
so that he made sure in advance...
...that everyone accepted the invitation.
[indistinct chatter over radio]
[synth rendition
of "Gymnopdie No.1" playing]
[indistinct chatter]
[undercover agent, in English]
"We made a toast."
"I thanked them all for letting me
be part of the Cyberbunker family."
[indistinct chatter over speaker]
[music fades]
[police officer, in German]
Police! Hands up!
Everyone, hands in the air!
- [tense music playing]
- [indistinct shouting]
What the... What's going on?
What's going on here?
Suddenly, there was a racket outside,
there were helicopters flying around.
Everyone was chatting on WhatsApp.
"Guys, what's going on in Trarbach?"
There was a flurry of activity.
There was a massive police presence
in the local pub.
[indistinct shouting]
[Kevin, in English]
That's the moment where you need to have
a lot of self-control, just not to panic.
We were, um, bound by our hands.
We were blindfolded.
They put headphones over our ears.
You're just too focused
on what's happening right there,
then you can think about,
"Okay, what is happening
on the bunker side of things?"
[tense music continues]
[Tim, in German]
Night fell, everything was dark.
You're moving through a terrain
that you've never entered before.
[indistinct chatter]
[suspenseful music playing]
A bunker is always only secured
from the inside.
It makes sense.
But this has the unfortunate side effect
that if you leave the bunker and no one
is inside, it can't be locked.
[drone whirring]
[Kevin, in English]
The security that we had in place
at the time of the raid
was a simple padlock
connected to the door.
[in German]
And that's how it was here too.
- [interviewer] A padlock?
- A padlock, yes.
[interviewer] And the special forces
managed to open that?
We'd have been able to open it.
[chuckles] It's not that hard
to crack a padlock.
[in English]
That should never have happened.
That was another thing.
This is not something
that we would normally have done.
There's always someone
at all of the bases,
and it's never actually fully, um...
like... empty, unguarded.
[tense music playing]
[Tim, in German]
There were a multitude of rooms,
arranged in an angular fashion.
It was pretty much a square.
The units moved
deeper and deeper into the bunker...
and at some point, on the third level,
ended up in the server room.
[music intensifies]
You have a rough idea
of what you think it will look like,
but what we found on site
definitely topped that.
At first the amount of data
was overwhelming.
The server room was significantly larger
than I expected it to be.
[servers whirring]
[indistinct chatter]
[Jrg] There were also
a few empty shelves,
so it was obviously set up for growth.
We could only shut down the servers
once the data on them had been backed up.
[Jrg] So, each server had to be backed up
before it could be taken down.
[laughs] It's amazing, shutting down
something like that.
[upbeat techno music playing]
[Jrg] Then it was game over.
If you take the servers away from
the perpetrators, business is over.
The sites were down as soon as
the bunker had been taken offline.
[news reporter 1]
In the fight against cybercrime,
German investigators...
...have dismantled a major data center
for illegal business
on the darknet for the first time.
After almost five years of research,
the investigators achieved
an extraordinary blow against cybercrime.
[news reporter 2]
All of this ran over 280 servers,
with up to 200 customers on each.
[news reporter 1] Through which,
amongst other things, drugs
and fake documents were distributed.
[news reporter 2] A total of
650 police officers were deployed.
The evaluation of the seized data
has only just begun.
Our first impression
is that the scope is enormous.
[news reporter 3] The bunker
in Mont Royal, says one investigator,
is a real goldmine for them.
[computer beeping]
In total, two petabytes of data
were secured, so two million gigabytes.
[Ed, in English] The police
had seized a huge amount of data.
In a way,
it was like this Aladdin's cave
of evidence
about criminal activity on the internet.
This data started
to throw up interesting new avenues
for other investigations.
[Leroy] So, the data we received
from the German authorities,
after the takedown of the Cyberbunker,
was substantial.
[pensive music playing]
[in German] I think the scene
quite underestimated the authorities,
and I did too.
The Cyberbunker bust had
an enormous impact on the darknet scene,
on darknet drug trading overall.
The volume of stuff circulating
and the quantity of goods,
which was just a number to me,
were in reality actually drugs
that end up somewhere,
that are produced by people, people who
suffer during the production process.
Just the whole extent of it
only hit me after the arrest,
and not straight away,
it took a while.
I regret it all.
[Leroy, in English] It directly
contributed to over 300 arrests
in 22 countries,
spanning three continents.
The fentanyl that was taken off
the streets,
just off of this one operation,
was enough to kill five million people.
You can only imagine
of the four hundred terabytes of data,
what you'll find, what you'll uncover,
what crimes you'll potentially stop,
what lives you'll potentially save.
[Jrg, in German]
The trial was a challenge, of course.
It was a wide-reaching charge,
it was a technically complex subject.
You must first prove the crimes
that have been committed
from the computer center
by other individuals,
and then you have to prove
that the operators of the data center
were aware of, knew about,
and encouraged these acts.
IMPRISONMEN[news reporter]
Herman X. and a few colleagues
have now been declared
a criminal organization.
[Jrg] I was pretty sure
there would be a conviction.
I still consider the investigation
to be watertight,
and I also think
the evidence is watertight.
[somber music playing]
- [indistinct chatter]
- [camera shutter clicking]
[Kevin, in English]
Xennt turned completely gray
and was more skinny than he was before.
We made eye contact
and we just pointed fingers.
Like, "Are you okay?"
He said, "Yes, I'm fine."
But it was kind of shocking
to see him in that state.
[news reporter, in German]
"Aiding and abetting some 250,000 crimes,"
the indictment reads.
[in English]
They made so many accusations.
That's just hoping
that something will stick.
[in German] So, you just have to note...
...Xennt didn't kill anyone,
didn't rob a bank,
didn't steal an old granny's purse.
He supplied a server,
or rather multiple servers.
That's what he's accused of,
running a data center.
As such, he therefore remains convinced
that he's done nothing illegal.
This being seen differently legally
is just the way the law works.
However, in terms of evidence,
the case was completely well-rounded.
[news reporter] Nevertheless,
the Cyberbunker operators deny
knowing about their customers'
illegal darknet activities.
[Kevin, in English] The trial
in general was a show trial.
Angerer has to keep the show
and the parade as high as possible
because what would otherwise happen
when it would be evident
that the use of force wasn't necessary,
if everybody would be free,
if the trial turned out to be nothing?
Plus, the guy wasted
like his entire budget
for the coming ten years or something
on the silly raid
with 650 Playmobiles
and extra blauw licht and, uh,
and a helicopter and a tank.
[news reporter, in German]
Senior public prosecutor Angerer spent
nearly five years on the investigation.
Can he really prove the defendants knew
what criminal services were operating?
Once, at the beginning of a trial day,
Xennt turned around
to the other defendants
and held his finger up to his lips.
Probably to order silence.
that they didn't testify at all
and preferred to sit in jail.
[in English] He won't win that court case.
There's simply no way in hell
he will ever win that court case, but...
[in German] I decided to testify
shortly after I was arrested.
[tense music playing]
[Michiel] I think
that Xennt should have stood up,
he should have explained
what was going on there.
That's why I made these notes,
just writing down
everything I could remember.
My whole testimony
took six days of hearings.
And I assumed, well,
I knew nothing about any of it,
so I can't get imprisoned for that,
it will probably turn out okay.
Mr. Rugers, and this was shown
in our interrogations,
plays down his role in this entire set
of offenses as being insignificant.
[Jrg] I don't know how Xennt
managed to get these people.
He obviously has some charisma,
people follow him.
Rugers defended him to the end,
even in the main trial.
He acknowledged the offenses, but always
claimed that Xennt is actually a good guy.
That contradicts itself,
that doesn't make sense at all.
Xennt always told me everything,
but the fact he was sending messages
saying that it's okay for marijuana
to be sold through the servers,
he never ever told me that.
So, he apparently left things out
and that's why he could rely
on my involvement.
For five years.
I can't believe that
the second in command
in the Cyberbunker hierarchy,
actually, didn't know what was going on.
I just can't accept that.
In the trial against the operators
of the so-called Cyberbunker
in Traben-Trarbach,
a verdict has now been reached.
[news reporter 1]
The defendants were convicted
of forming a criminal organization,
but not for aiding and abetting
the internet crimes of their customers.
[news reporter 2] The Dutch citizen
and seven co-defendants
will receive prison sentences
of up to five years and nine months.
[melancholy music playing]
[Xennt] Testing, one, two, three.
Testing, one, two, three.
One, two, three, four, five, six.
Testing, one, two, three.
Uh, I can't do it
without looking at the notes.
[pensive music playing]
"My trial was not fair
and so neither was the judgement."
"It hasn't made us guilty
of any crimes at all."
"We had nothing to hide."
"Nothing I could have said
would have mattered."
"I was already convicted
before I was arrested."
"The Chamber had to justify
this long procedure somehow,
so someone had to take responsibility."
"I will not be intimidated or obstructed
by the German judiciary,
the press or anyone else."
"I am on the side of all those who have
been deprived their fundamental rights,
their professional and private lives
for the sake of communication."
"I believe privacy
is a fundamental right."
"Everyone has a right to privacy."
"The more communication evolves,
the easier it becomes for third parties
to eavesdrop and spy on us."
"I am sure people like me will have
a big impact on the future internet."
"The problem, however,
is whether humanity is ready."
Next question, please.
Do you see yourself as a criminal?
No, not really.
I think he is a criminal,
in a different form than someone
who commits murder or another crime,
but I don't think he has a problem
with what he did.
[interviewer, in English]
Do you consider yourself a criminal?
[tense music playing]
One of the original Cyberbunker crew
was not arrested that day, Sven Kamphuis.
He wasn't in the Cyberbunker,
he was somewhere else entirely,
but he was not even arrested afterwards.
[Martijn] Why is that guy still out there?
Is he the kind of person that talks
about things to other people,
which gives him the kind of privileges
to stay out? I don't know.
[Ed] I remember asking Sven
whether he had escaped arrest
because he had been an informant
on the rest of the group
and he told me,
"We don't negotiate with terrorists."
Uh, their law does not apply to us.
We don't stand above their law,
we stand completely outside of their law.
It's their law, not our law.
[breathes deeply]
There may be some overlapping
basic values,
such as not murdering thy neighbor
and that sort of stuff.
But other than that, our law
is quite a bit different from theirs.
If you are...
If you break a law in a country,
then you're liable to be arrested
and convicted for breaking that law.
So, it helps if you think
that you're the prince
of a sovereign nation,
of, you know, Cyberbunker.
[ominous music playing]
[Martijn] It's difficult
to really understand his values because...
they don't exist in my world.
He has his own visions
and takings on certain subjects.
Quite a sinister individual, I think.
[ominous music continues]
[Jrg, in German]
Their advert stating no child pornography
or terrorism would be hosted
was fulfilled by the perpetrators
with regard to terrorism.
We found no terrorism on the servers.
In terms of child pornography,
it's a bit different.
[in English]
There was said in court multiple times
that they found, um, things
on the servers of Cyberbunker
like child pornography,
but it's totally not okay.
[Jrg, in German]
Mr. Kamphuis had a server
on which linked child pornography
had been operating.
That means I can go through links,
so pretty unambiguous links,
like pre-teen, that kind of stuff,
meaning pre-teenager age,
and see the corresponding photos.
[tense music playing]
[in English] It's not actual rape.
Um, it's like going...
If you take a photo of a bank robbery
and you print the picture
of the bank robbery in the paper, right?
Um, is this picture of the bank robbery,
is that a crime by itself?
No. It's a picture of a crime
that already happened.
[in German] I'm aware
of Mr. Kamphuis' absurd notions
with regard to child pornography.
What he overlooks, of course,
is that behind every photo,
every child pornography photo,
is active abuse, the abuse of the child.
That's quite different
from a photo of a bank robbery.
In that,
news about a bank robbery is shared.
Child pornography images are not shown
to say there's been child pornography.
It's a completely different intention
behind it.
And you would have to be pretty sick
to make that comparison.
He wants to live his freedom
and children should suffer for it.
He's not interested in children's freedom.
And that is the problem
with people like him.
They talk about freedom,
when they just mean their own.
[interviewer] Do you think
that Mr. Kamphuis will remain free
for some time?
I don't understand the question.
[pensive music playing]
"In any data center
where there are customer servers,
customers could use their servers
for criminal purposes."
"You don't even notice it."
"There is nothing you can do about it."
That's simply wrong.
When Mr. Xennt says
he didn't know anything,
I not only don't believe him,
but he's lying.
We have email correspondence
in which Mr. Xennt clearly tells customers
about how he protects them
from prosecution.
Um, so he knew exactly what was going on.
[Xennt] "I have many plans
for the future."
"I know that there is no one else
who wants to or can do what I want to do."
"You cannot stop me."
"I will still achieve my goals."
"Everything is ready.
I just have to go home."
"I want to, and I will eventually, be able
to realize my vision for a better world."
"No one can stop me."
Thank you for the interview.
[pensive music continues]
[tense music playing]
[Brbel] Traben-Trarbach
was in a state of shock,
when all that came to light.
It's something
that stays with you for a while.
[Winfried] Shock, and...
What went on there was huge.
[Hajo] It was a relief in a way.
Now it's burst, now the bubble has burst.
Now we finally know
what happened up there.
It's good that it came to an end.
It was bad enough.
[Patrice] It still hurts today to think
of the suffering that was sown with it.
How, in today's world,
it's actually incredibly easy
for someone to do
the same thing in another place,
with the same success, success that
has negative consequences on people.
[melancholy music playing]
[Ed, in English]
When he'd sublet a portion of
the first Cyberbunker to another group
and he claimed not to know
what they were doing there,
an ecstasy lab was found.
And then many, many years later,
when the police, you know,
raided the second Cyberbunker
and they found these servers, the defense
of Xennt to the Cyberbunker crew was,
"Well, we don't know
what was on those servers."
And it struck me that
it was the same defense,
you know, "Something bad was happening
but we didn't know what."
[sinister music playing]
I don't think Xennt has another way
of doing business than in the dark.
And he will continue his activities
because I think that's part of his life.
[Guido] He will do it again. Absolutely.
He has to find another bunker.
There's no question in that.
Well, the story of Cyberbunker
isn't about success or failure,
it's about what will happen in the future.
So, we have to see what the future holds
because the story might not be over yet.
[ominous synth music playing]
[automated voice as Xennt] I am a creator.
Not a consumer.
I will make the world
a better place to live in.
I have already recreated
little parts of it.
- As soon as I have the possibility...
- [audio glitches]
...I will start improving the world
at a much larger scale.
[ominous synth music continues]
[music intensifies]
[music concludes]