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German Darkweb Forum Owner to Appear in Court in November

The owner of the darkweb forum used by the Munich gunman faces charges in a 93-page indictment for providing a platform where users could buy and sell guns, drugs, and other illegal items. His charges stemmed from an investigation into the darkweb vendor who had given the Munich gunman the Glock 17 used in the murder of nine innocent civilians.

According to Carolin Kley, the spokesperson for the Karlsruhe district court, the November court appearances will demonstrate how the alleged forum owner had created a platform on the darkweb that led to the deaths of the nine people in Munich and the distribution of guns and drugs to thousands of customers throughout Germany. The argument, in this case, is that the alleged owner should have known the damage his forum could enable, even if the alleged owner did not directly call for or involve himself in any criminal activity.

The forum, “Germany in the Deep Web,” was both a discussion forum and a forum for vendors to advertise and sell their products through various subforums and categories. According to evidence collected by the German Federal Criminal Police and the Mannheim Public Prosecutor, a 31-year-old from Karlsruhe functioned as the site’s creator and sole administrator. Former users of the forum will remember the man’s forum username: “luckyspax.” The media has not revealed the man’s name but has been referring to him, since his arrest on June 8, as “Markus F” or “Alexander U.”

During the investigation into the Munich gunman—David Sonboly—German law enforcement learned that the young man had purchased a Glock 17 from a vendor on a darkweb forum. He had also purchased ammunition for the Glock on multiple occasions, the investigators learned during an investigation that lasted longer than 12 months. The Munich shooter wrote, in one message, “hi, I’m looking for a Glock 17 with a total of 250 rounds of ammunition.” It did not take the German Federal Criminal Police long to identify and arrest the darkweb firearm vendor after Sonboly had murdered nine people in Munich on July 22, 2016. One month after the shooting, the police contacted a firearm vendor on Germany in the Deep Web and conducted a controlled purchase after convincing the man to sell a machine gun the undercover officers.

After the gun vendor’s arrest, the media heard very little about the case against the vendor, a 32-year-old identified—after the conviction—as Philipp K. The man had been working with the police to identify and catch vendors and other high-profile users of Germany in the Deep Web. His cooperation, for several months, helped him avoid any serious punishment. But during the course of his work, he allowed law enforcement to sign into his DiDW account to contact other forum members. Investigators learned that the gun dealer had known that Sonboly had planned to kill people after he had purchased the vendor’s Glock 17. The vendor is currently serving a seven year prison sentence for negligent homicide and weapons act violations.

Not long after the arrest of Philipp K., German authorities went after the owner of the forum for the same charges as the gun vendor in addition to drug charges. Although the alleged forum owner, as far as investigators know, had no knowledge of the Munich shooting before it had happened, prosecutors have claimed that by creating the forum, the forum owner could have foreseen an event such as the Munich shooting. By allowing users to sell guns, the alleged forum creator showed criminal negligence. Prosecutors are using the same argument for the drug transactions that Germany in the Deep Web facilitated. According to the indictment, the 32-year-old was responsible for sales of amphetamine, marijuana, and numerous psychedelic.

At the alleged forum owner’s most recent hearing, the court allowed the man’s pretrial release on the grounds that he posed no threat to the public.

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