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Techie accused of snooping wife's email cleared of wrongdoing

His ex had been checking his texts, court hears

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A computer technician accused of hacking into his wife's webmail account to search for evidence of an affair has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

A computer hacking charge against Leon Walker was dropped after it emerged in court that his then-partner Clara Walker had been reading her husband's mobile text messages at the same time that he had been snooping on her Gmail account using a shared PC.

The techie told the court that he had checked his then-wife's email after she failed to return home one night as he suspected Clara Walker was having an affair with her second husband, a man she had left after he was allegedly arrested for beating her in front of her son, a child of her first marriage.

Leon Walker told the court that he was concerned for the boy's welfare, prompting him to hand over the emails to Clara Walker's first husband, who then used them in a custody battle for his son. The 34-year-old computer technician - from Rochester Hills, a northern suburb of Detroit - was Clara's third husband. The origin of these emails emerged in court, and resulted in charges against Leon Walker, which had dragged on for two and a half years, being dropped last week.

This still left the secondary charge related to Leon Walker's access, as a local government techie, to a confidential law enforcement database (CLEMIS) to see if any spouse had been charged with unauthorised access to their partner's email, according to a CBS report.

Prosecutors dropped that charge on Thursday, 19 July, after it emerged that Leon Walker may have been given permission to use the system – or at least that he wasn't properly informed that its use was restricted.

Leon and Clara Walker had a daughter together, a factor that made an already volatile relationship even more fraught. The Walkers have since divorced.

Leon Walker, who has been on paid leave from his county job since his initial arrest, has vowed to rebuild his life.

He reacted to the news with an update to his personal blog on Thursday under the heading "I Am Free". On Twitter he added: "All charges against me have been dropped. I am exonerated. I am free!"

Walker's lawyer, Leon Weiss, hailed the decision and called for a reworking of Michigan's anti-hacking laws. Unless amended, the law could criminalise parental monitoring of their children's online activities and other benign activities, he said in a press statement. ®

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