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Judge blasts Cisco's 'unmitigated gall' in ex-exec's arrest

Canadian jurist denies extradition of alleged 'hacker'

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A Canadian judge has lambasted Cisco for its "unmitigated gall" and "duplicity" in goading US prosecutors to push for the public arrest of a former executive who was suing the US networking giant.

Justice Ronald McKinnon's comments were made on Tuesday when he ordered a stay in the extradition of the ex-exec, Peter Alfred-Adekeye, who was charged in the US with 97 criminal counts of hacking into Cisco's network following complaints by the company.

Not coincidentally, it seems, Alfred-Adekeye had filed a civil antitrust suit against Cisco in 2008, charging the company with monopolizing the service and maintenance of its networking equipment, and forcing customers to buy contracts for bug-fixes, patches, and updates.

Alfred-Adekeye was arrested in a trendy Vancouver, BC hotel in May 2010 while in the middle of testifying at a hearing on the antitrust suit before US court officials and four Cisco lawyers.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun, Alfred-Adekeye was "perp-walked through the hotel lobby to a waiting police wagon" and whisked off to jail, where he spent 28 days.

In his decision on Tuesday, Justice McKinnon slammed the allegations that led to Alfred-Adekeye's arrest and the subsequent restrictive bail conditions that prevented him from leaving Canada while awaiting extradition proceedings, saying that the actual reason for his arrest was that he "dared to take on a multinational giant."

An extradition hearing was held on April 19, during which Alfred-Adekeye's lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, charged collusion between US prosecutors and Cisco, called the information provided to Canadian authories "completely pathetic", and characterized the US prosecutor's reasoning for the arrest as being "tortured" and "laughable".

Among the prosecutor's stated reasons for arresting Alfred-Adekeye and preventing him from leaving Canada was that the US Department of Homeland Security could prove that he had snuck in and out of the states to perform his alleged 97 hacking events.

One problem: during that two-year period, Alfred-Adekeye was in the US on a legal visa, and never left the country – facts that the US now acknowledges to be true.

The US prosecutor also neglected to tell Canadian authorities that Alfred-Adekeye had filed a civil antitrust suit against Cisco. Two months after his arrest, Alfred-Adekeye and Cisco settled that suit, but the criminal hacking charges remain.

Sandford also argued that the US prosecutor inflated the severity of the hacking charges, characterized Alfred-Adekeye as a flight risk, and asked Canadian authorities to to take the unusual step of arresting him because the prosecutor didn't have time to file a formal extradition request – arguments that Sandford called "not truthful."

The arrest, according to Sandford, was a "planned and deliberate" ploy by Cisco and the US prosecutor. "They're in it together," she told McKinnon, " they were both acting abusively."

On Tuesday, McKinnon agreed. The activities of Cisco and the US prosecutor that led to Alfred-Adekeye's arrest, would make an impartial observer "blanch at the audacity of it all," he said, referring to the information they provided to the Canadian authorities as "full of innuendo, half-truths and falsehoods," according to the Vancouver Sun.

"This speaks volumes for Cisco's duplicity," McKinnon said, charging Cisco with "unmitigated gall" in using such a heavy-handed move as an unsupportable arrest and jailing to pressure Alfred-Adekeye to drop or settle his civil antitrust complaint.

McKinnon also came down hard on the fact that Alfred-Adekeye was arrested while giving testimony. "It is simply not done in a civilized jurisdiction that is bound by the rule of law," he said.

McKinnon also agreed with Sandford that the entire episode had a literary quality. He referred to it as as something that could have been written by Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22. She called it "Kafkaesque." ®

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