Canada blocks extradition of Cisco suspect

Peter Alfred-Adekeye sued Cisco for antitrust and last year was arrested for data theft

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, British Columbia, 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.

U.S. attorneys had sought Alfred-Adekeye's arrest so they could extradite him to the U.S., 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 Vancouver Sun reported on the case Friday.

The U.S. 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 on Tuesday, 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 U.S. 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, quoting from her notes on the judge's speech. 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 US$14,000, without providing a more specific figure.

U.S. authorities also used "innuendo, half-truths and falsehoods" about Alfred-Adekeye in the package of information it presented in favor of the emergency extradition, the judge said. For example, the U.S. attorney questioned Alfred-Adekeye's British citizenship even though he had been granted U.S. visas with a British passport in the past, and said Alfred-Adekeye had tried to use a Nigerian passport to enter the U.S. when he used the British passport, the judge said, according to Sandford.

Alfred-Adekeye had sought to enter the U.S. to testify in the civil case but was not allowed to, so a special session of the U.S. 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 U.S. Secret Service had issued its criminal complaint against Alfred-Adekeye after nearly two years of investigation. "Ultimately this case is a matter between U.S. and Canadian governmental authorities," Cisco said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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