Feeds

'The NSA set me up,' ex-con Qwest exec claims

Former CEO says refusal to help spies cost him his freedom

Top three mobile application threats

Former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, having recently completed a prison sentence for insider trading, maintains that he never committed any crime and that the sole reason for his conviction can be summed up in three letters: NSA.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nacchio said former security contractor Edward Snowden's revelations about far-reaching domestic spying programs conducted by the US National Security Agency backed up his claim of innocence, which has never wavered since his 2007 trial.

"I feel vindicated," Nacchio told the paper. "I never broke the law, and I never will."

During his trial, prosecutors argued that Nacchio sold $52m of Qwest stock because he knew the telco's fortunes were tanking. He says that's not true – that when he sold the shares he thought Qwest's outlook was good.

What he did do, he says, is turn down the NSA's 2001 request that he give the spy agency access to Qwest customers' phone records. Qwest was the only US telco to do so at the time, he claims, and his prosecution for securities fraud was a government reprisal.

Nacchio says he had planned to submit records of Qwest's dealings with the NSA as part of his defense, but that some of the materials he wanted to include were deemed classified and he was barred from presenting them as evidence.

As a result of his conviction, Nacchio paid a $19m fine, forfeited another $44.6m, and was handed a six-year prison sentence, which he served in minimum-security facilities in Pennsylvania. He was released on September 20 after serving 54 months.

Having entered prison looking every bit the plump-faced, well-heeled corporate exec, the 64-year-old Nacchio's body has been hardened by weightlifting and he now sports a shaved head and goatee reminiscent of Breaking Bad's Walter White.

Six years after his conviction, he's still in and out of the courts. He has sued his criminal defense lawyers for overbilling and malpractice (the latter claim since having been dismissed), and he's reportedly seeking an $18m refund from the Internal Revenue Service, based on his claim that the funds he was made to forfeit should have been tax deductible.

He's also looking for a book deal. He has two in mind: the first about Americans' loss of liberty from the actions of the NSA and other government agencies, and the second a memoir of his own experiences in federal prison. Nacchio describes his incarceration as being like "Lord of the Flies, for grown-ups," and among his more colorful claims are that his best friends inside were drug offenders who went by "Juice" and "Spoonie," and that his bunkmate was called "Spider."

"I trust Spoonie and Juice with my back," Nacchio told the WSJ. "I wouldn't trust the guys who worked for me at Qwest." ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.