A week after his arrest and imprisonment, [Peter] Adekeye appeared before British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman, a six-year veteran of the province’s highest trial bench. Adekeye was described 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.
Canadian prosecutors said that, according to US Homeland Security, Adekeye slipped in and out of the US surreptitiously—and they could match up the dates of the offenses with dates he had unlawfully entered the country over a two-year period.
They made it sound like the crime of the century; in fact, throughout the specified time, Adekeye was living in America on a valid visa. And the heinous crime was accessing Cisco’s internal systems on several occasions with a Cisco employee’s permission.
As he stood in court for his first appearance, Adekeye couldn’t believe what he heard—his citizenship was disparaged, his achievements derided. Prosecutors portrayed him not as a successful computer executive and innovator but rather as a Nigerian scofflaw who was a serious flight risk with a checkered, fugitive’s past.
By then, he understood only too well how he had been pursued by Cisco. The Canadian authorities, however, and the judges who issued the arrest warrant and denied Adekeye bail, remained in the dark. They were unaware Adekeye’s alleged crimes were part of a bigger legal battle he was waging against the $7 billion computer firm.
As part of its response to his litigation, Cisco had accused Adekeye in a civil countersuit of using his former colleague’s computer credentials to obtain services worth “more than $14,000.” No one ever explained the “magic” of that number—whether it meant $15,000 or $1 million—even the judges couldn’t figure it out.
Cisco had pushed for Adekeye’s arrest, apparently as part of its litigation strategy to derail the damaging antitrust suit that Adekeye launched in December 2008. They allegedly wanted him kept in custody to pressure him into settling or withdrawing his suit; they succeeded in keeping him locked up for a month. Normally, on a case like this, a non-violent defendant without a criminal record who wasn’t considered a flight risk would have been out on bail in a day.