Networking giant Cisco was blasted by a Canadian judge for arranging for the criminal arrest of a whistleblower who was suing the company.
Peter Adekeye launched an anti-trust case against his former employer in the US District Court for Northern California and was giving his deposition where he lived in Vancouver when four coppers entered the room and interrupted the hearing.
According to Ars Technica. Adekeye was jailed while the legal mess was sorted out. Part of the problem was that the highly expensive legal team for Cisco had done its best to convince the Canadian authorities that Adekeye was a “sinister” Nigerian on the run from 97 charges of illegal computer hacking.
It was not the Canadian authorities’ fault. They had been briefed by US Homeland Security which had allegedly been briefed by, er, Cisco. Adekeye’s hacking crime was “accessing Cisco’s internal systems”.
On all those occasions Adekeye had a Cisco employee’s permission and the matter on whether it was theft or not had not been ruled upon.
US prosecutors invoked “emergency provisions” of the Extradition Act to obtain the arrest warrant.
The judge who approved the warrant was reportedly told by US prosecutors that they did not have time to file a full extradition request because Adekeye might flee the country.
When the extradition documentation actually arrived, the judge would discover that it was a pack of “innuendo, half truths, and complete falsehoods.”
Throughout all of this, the judges and the Canadian legal system was apparently unaware that all the made-up crimes were part of the bigger anti-trust battle Adekeye was waging against Cisco.
In 2008, Adekeye’s Multiven company sued Cisco claiming that it had harmed it and consumers by forcing customers to buy its maintenance contracts. If Multiven won it would cost Cisco a bomb. As the case moved through the courts, Adekeye attempted to return to America to participate. However, mysteriously, the US denied him entry to give evidence. After all, if he proved his case to the American courts a huge US outfit would be brought to its knees.
When the judge handling the antitrust suit was told, Cisco was offered the opportunity to depose Adekeye in Switzerland or Britain.
So the court chose Vancouver where the authorities did not have to be informed of a foreign judicial hearing occurring on its soil.
Cisco agreed. And then popped around to another court and swore out a criminal complaint against Adekeye based on the allegations of illegal computer access.
In the end all the legal footwork did not turn out in its favour, and Cisco settled Multiven’s antitrust suit and abandoned its previous service contract practices.
Although details of the case were never made public, Adekeye had won and his company and others now could service Cisco products. Cisco dropped the illicit computer access charge against Adekeye, however, it would take nine months before the extradition proceedings against him in Vancouver were dropped.
It seems however that the Canadian legal system was just waking up to what Cisco and the US authorities had allegedly done.
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon was incandescent with rage. He slammed both Canadian and American authorities for an appalling abuse of process and stayed the extradition proceedings against Adekeye.
Justice McKinnon was shocked that a trivial $14,000 civil case had been transformed into a criminal proceeding and engaged the full might and resources of two governments, with the aim of misleading one of Canada’s senior trial courts.
Canadia’s federal lawyers had done their best to cover their arses.
Its Federal lawyer Diba Majzub had presented claims that it didn’t matter if Adekeye was falsely characterised. It was America’s job to rule on the merits of Adekey’s case and not Canada’s.
McKinnon dismissed all that and said that US prosecutors acted outrageously by having the executive arrested during his deposition.
Cisco allegedly engineered it so that the arrest took place in the presence of a US High Court Judge, Special Master, George Fisher, with Cisco’s lawyers insisting on filming the entire arrest on the record. It was clearly an attempt to humiliate Adekeye and weaken his case.
McKinnon said that it all spoke “volumes for Cisco’s duplicity”.
McKinnon could not believe that police had interrupted a judicial proceeding to arrest Adekeye.
This was not done in a civilised jurisdiction that is bound by the rule of law. Going back to the 1500s, the law said that you don’t arrest people while they are testifying.
He dubbed the whole thing as a perversion of justice to allow the criminal law to be used to resolve a trivial civil suit and it shouldn’t be allowed. He thought that if the Canadian authorities had known what was going on it would not have proceeded.
If the US had let Adekeye into the country, it would have all been resolved.
However, the US astoundingly misled Canada into launching expensive legal proceedings, McKinnon said.
Needless to say, Adekeye has been shaken by the whole thing. What should be alarming is not that Cisco allegedly played hard against him, but that it was able to use extradition laws and its chums in the US government to lock up those who dared to challenge it.
If Judge McKinnon’s full ruling is read, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Cisco is one of the most evil companies out there. With competition that good, that is a crown that the outfit might want to think about losing.