A 35-year-old former employee of a French law enforcement agency was sentenced to seven years in prison – minus two already served – for selling personal information taken from the agency’s database on the darknet. The outcome of the court proceedings has been labeled as a “huge blunder” by legal experts in France as critics claim the sentence is “erroneous” and “tainted with illegality.”
The former police officer, who went by the vendor name “Haurus” on the Blackhand darknet market, is accused of using his position at the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI) to gain access to personal information that he would then sell to various clients. He is alleged to have formed relationships with clients connected to France’s criminal underworld, providing them with information on multiple people who were later found dead under mysterious circumstances.
In court, the man referred to as Haurus claimed he started his illegal business to help pay off debts. Once they were taken care of, however, he continued; driven not only by greed but the thrill of the work itself. He told the courtroom about his desire to maintain the more expensive lifestyle that he had grown accustomed to, and that he felt there was no going back to his regular job afterward.
In all, Haurus is accused of having performed about 382 unauthorized searches of law enforcement databases, looking for identities, addresses or geolocations of targeted individuals. He charged between 100 and 300 EUR per search, which he believed he had been conducting in secret.
During the trial, Haurus all but admitted to the crimes of which he was accused, insisting that he was no longer the “thug” he once was, having recognized his errors, and pleaded for the court to take his self-professed transformation into consideration.
Regardless of the defendant’s display, prosecutors believe the magistrate’s sentence of five years to be a misapplication of law and are appealing the ruling. Prosecutors also believe the ruling leaves a door open for the defendant to avoid prison altogether on a technicality. They argue that he deserves a much harsher sentence, given the serious nature of his confessed crime.
One of Haurus’ darknet clients, thought to have connections to organized crime in France’s metropolitan regions, was also handed down a sentence of three years in prison.