[Q&A] A high-tech giant stands accused of using U.S. officials to subvert Canadian justice.British Columbia’s highest court has accused tech giant Cisco and U.S. officials of a massive abuse of process in order to have a Cisco whistleblower thrown in jail. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon said Cisco had the “unmitigated gall” to attempt to use Canada’s justice system, via U.S. officials, to pressure former Cisco exec Peter Alfred-Adekeye into dropping a civil suit against the company. Alfred-Adekeye had alleged that Cisco was illegally forcing customers into maintenance contracts. Cisco eventually settled the suit and abandoned the maintenance-contract practice, but not before Alfred-Adekeye spent 28 days in a Canadian jail. The Alfred-Adekeye case has caused outrage among many commenters, some of whom have suggested it’s a sign that the U.S. is becoming a “corporate police state.” The Mark interviewed Marilyn Sandford, who represented Alfred-Adekeye during his extradition proceedings.
THE MARK: What happened in this case, and how did you get involved?
MARILYN SANDFORD: On May 31, the Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld a decision to stay extradition proceedings against my client, Peter Alfred-Adekeye. The United States was seeking to have my client surrender to face charges in the state of California, in which they alleged that he gained unauthorized access to Cisco’s computer products.
My client’s company had sued Cisco in the United States, in what’s called an anti-trust lawsuit. He and his company alleged that Cisco was engaging in competitive practices that were not lawful, as they were unduly restrictive to competitors. In response to that, Cisco counterclaimed that, just after he left his job there, my client had used a friend’s password – someone who still worked at Cisco – and had accessed things that, as a former employee, he should have been paying money to access online. As a result, Cisco claimed losses that it said amounted to over $14,000.
In the face of that criminal charge in the United States, my client was arrested here in Canada. Alfred-Adekeye is a British citizen who was residing in Switzerland. He was in Vancouver for the purpose of testifying in the lawsuit against Cisco, but, during the course of his testimony, the Canadian authorities – at the request of the Americans – arrested him on an extradition warrant. That was in May 2010. Prior to the extradition hearing in Vancouver, we brought a motion to have the case stayed as an abuse of the process of Canadian courts, and Justice McKinnon sided with us.
Cisco communicated with the U.S. prosecuting authorities concerning the factual allegations raised in its counterclaim, and a criminal charge was then laid. So the charge that my client was arrested on in Vancouver – as he was testifying in his lawsuit – was a criminal charge that mirrored this counterclaim. The judge found that the criminal process in the United States was used in an effort to pressure my client into abandoning his anti-trust suit against Cisco. That’s one of the aspects of what the judge found to be abusive – the fact that the U.S. used Canada’s criminal process, and then the arrest itself, to arrest Alfred-Adekeye as he was testifying in front of six lawyers. It was all on videotape, too, with the cameras rolling.
Source: The Mark