More trouble for Cisco: Ars Technica is writing a damning piece, written by Ian Mulgrew, on how Cisco may have abused the legal system to unjustly punish a former employee engaged in an antitrust suit against the company.
According to Ars Technica, Cisco filed spurious hacking charges against former Cisco executive Peter Adekeye to prevent him from giving a deposition.
Adekeye left Cisco to found a startup Multiven that provides service and maintenance for network infrastructure. Adekeye was involved in an antitrust suit alleging that Cisco forced its customers to have all its maintenance done by Cisco instead of third parties. “Think of a car dealer able to force all customers to return for every repair and servicing,” Mulgrew wrote.
Adekeye, a British citizen, was denied entry to U.S. to testify in the case. He eventually was allowed to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia to give a deposition. But he was arrested during his deposition – which is unheard of in Canada.
The U.S. government, which had denied Adekeye the right to enter the U.S. to testify in the antitrust case – convinced Canadian authorities that Adekeye was a wanted criminal and a flight risk. Adekeye was described to British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman as “a ‘sinister’ figure of uncertain citizenship on the run from 97 charges of illegal computer hacking that carried a penalty of almost half-a-millennium in prison.”
But what Adekeye was actually arrested over a was counter-suit filed by Cisco alleging that Adekeye had accessed Cisco’s network with the permission of a Cisco employee and obtained “over $14,000” worth of services. Somehow this snow-balled into overblown criminal charges.
Adekeye eventually won the antitrust suit, and the hacking charges against him were dropped.
Ars Technica quotes British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon, who decided not to extradite Adekeye to the U.S.:
Here we have a man who has no criminal record, who made every possible effort to comply with US immigration laws and procedures, but who dared to take on a multinational giant, rewarded with criminal charges that have been so grotesquely inflated as to make the average well-informed member of the public blanche at the audacity of it all.
What is Cisco’s response?
Cisco issued a brief statement in response to my inquiries. “The US Secret Service issued a criminal complaint after nearly two years of investigation alleging that Mr. Adekeye violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 97 distinct instances, and as a result a federal judge signed an arrest warrant for Mr. Adekeye,” it said. “Ultimately, this case is a matter between US and Canadian governmental authorities.