A Canadian judge has blocked the extradition of a former Cisco Systems executive and slammed that company and U.S. authorities for allegedly duping Canadian officials into arresting him.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Peter Alfred-Adekeye in Vancouver last May as he testified in a civil lawsuit involving his alleged theft of software from Cisco. The case was a countersuit that Cisco had filed, after Alfred-Adekeye sued the company for alleged antitrust violations. He had claimed Cisco illegally required customers to buy service contracts in order to get software updates and patches.
US attorneys had sought Alfred-Adekeye's arrest so they could extradite him, where they said he faced 97 counts of computer crimes with a possible sentence of five years for each count. But on Tuesday, Justice Ronald McKinnon of the British Columbia Supreme Court said those officials used false and misleading information to persuade other Canadian judges to order the arrest, according to Alfred-Adekeye's attorney, Marilyn Sandford.
The US Department of Justice requested an emergency extradition of Alfred-Adekeye, saying he was a flight risk. Alfred-Adekeye, who was released on bail 28 days after his arrest but forced to stay in Vancouver, has now returned to his home in Switzerland, Sandford said.
In an oral decision, McKinnon said Cisco seemed to have orchestrated the arrest to intimidate Alfred-Adekeye from pursuing his antitrust case against the company, according to Sandford.
"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 blanch at the audacity of it all," Sandford said. A transcript of the decision has not yet been made available, she said. Supreme Court officials could not be reached for comment.
Cisco and Alfred-Adekeye settled their litigation in July 2010. According to Sandford, McKinnon said Cisco had engaged in "duplicity" in pursuing such strong criminal charges in a case in which it dropped its claims after a settlement just a few months later. Cisco had said Alfred-Adekeye had stolen software worth more than $14,000, without providing a more specific figure.
American authorities also used "innuendo, half truths and falsehoods" about Alfred-Adekeye in the package of information it presented in favour of the emergency extradition, the judge said. For example, the attorney questioned Alfred-Adekeye's British citizenship, even though he had been granted US visas with a British passport in the past, and said Alfred-Adekeye had tried to use a Nigerian passport to enter the US when he in fact used the British passport, according to Sandford.
Alfred-Adekeye had sought to enter the US to testify in the civil case but was not allowed to, so a special session of the US District Court for the Northern District of California was held in Vancouver on May 20, 2010. Arresting him while he testified at that session violated normal legal practice, McKinnon said.
Alfred-Adekeye once worked for Cisco but left to form his own companies in Silicon Valley, including Multiven, a provider of service and support for networking gear. Multiven sued Cisco in 2008, alleging it forced Cisco customers to buy SMARTnet service contracts from Cisco in order to get software updates.
In a statement on Friday, Cisco said the Secret Service had issued its criminal complaint against Alfred-Adekeye after nearly two years of investigation. "Ultimately this case is a matter between US and Canadian governmental authorities," Cisco said.