COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — When Denmark's main gossip magazine in 2008 reported that newlywed Prince Joachim and his second wife were in Canada on their honeymoon, the magazine credited good sourcing.
A court called it a crime.
On Thursday, Judge Mette Lyster Knudsen sentenced a former employee of a payment-processing company for providing the glossy weekly with information on credit card payments of 135 Danish royals and other celebrities, enabling them to track people at home and abroad.
Peter Bo Henriksen, who got information through his previous job with the Nets company, was sentenced to 18 months. The judge said that over four years, Henriksen "systematically and under aggravating circumstances had unlawfully obtained information on a wide range of publicly known persons' credit card transactions."
Henrik Qvortrup, the magazine's former chief editor, was sentenced to 15 months, of which 12 were converted to 200 hours' community service. Qvortrup had made the deal with Henriksen and paid him 10,000 kroner ($1,400) every month for sending text messages with credit card transactions.
Lyster Knudsen of the Glostrup city court also handed down suspended sentences to another chief editor and two reporters, ranging from four to 12 months. A third, temporary chief editor was acquitted. All have since left the weekly.
One of the reporters, Ken B. Rasmussen, related in a 2014 book how reporters at Se og Hoer used information from a secret source with access to a card-payment company's computers. That sparked a criminal investigation.
Between 2008 and 2012, Henriksen provided the magazine with details about the credit-card purchases made by Danish singers, actors, celebrities and royals.
Henriksen appealed the ruling immediately while the others said they would consider an appeal. The other defendants had pleaded innocent, claiming they didn't know Henriksen was obtaining the information illegally.
Lars Werge, head of Denmark's Union of Journalists, said it was "serious and unique case in Danish press history," adding "we need to rebuild the journalistic credibility that has suffered a shatter."
British tabloid News of the World was shut down in 2011 after the revelation that it had eavesdropped on the mobile-phone voicemails of people in the public eye, including a 13-year-old murder victim. Several journalists were later convicted, and owner Rupert Murdoch's company paid out millions in compensation to hacking victims.
This corrects the sentence given to Qvortrup to 15 months instead of 18 months.