By Annabella PultzNielsen
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Four journalists from a Danish gossip magazine were sentenced to up to 15 months in prison on Thursday for paying for credit card data to help track politicians, celebrities and members of the royal family.
An employee of the credit card company Nets got 18 months for selling information between 2008 and 2012 that revealed the whereabouts of prominent people such as Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Hannibal-actor Mads Mikkelsen.
The leaks enabled the weekly magazine Se & Hor to follow Prince Joachim and his wife on what was meant to be a secret honeymoon to Canada in 2008, after it bought data about the couple’s plane tickets from the Nets system operator.
The media group that owns the magazine was fined 10 million Danish crowns ($1.52 million) last August for the covert monitoring of more than 120 celebrities. Two of its former managers were given suspended six-month sentences.
“This case has drawn a clear line in the sand, leaving no doubt that stealing and selling confidential information is criminal offense,” Nets spokesman Karsten Anker Petersen said.
One of the monitored celebrities, Rene Dif of the Danish-Norwegian music group Aqua, was unhappy with the trial’s results for the journalists.
“These short sentences shows how ridiculous the Danish justice system is,” he told TV2 local television.
“There is no reason for people to be allowed to snoop around like this,” said Dif, whose group topped the charts worldwide with its hit “Barbie Girl” in 1997.
The four journalists said they would consider appealing the verdict.
(Reporting by Annabella Pultz Nielsen; Editing by Tom Heneghan)