San Francisco, Aug 24 (Reuters): In a criminal case in which the borderless Internet has collided head-on with global law, a Seattle lawyer is set to charge that US officials illegally hacked into computers of two Russians to get evidence to prosecute the pair on computer crimes.
Seattle defence attorney John Lundin told Reuters that he will use the same argument Russia’s state security service FSB has used — that the FBI acted criminally in its attempt to nab his client Vasiliy Gorshkov — in an appeal he expects to file after Gorshkov is sentenced on September 13 in a federal court in Seattle.
“It seems the (Russian) case is intended more to make a point, which is that an expansion of law enforcement techniques would have inevitable ramifications on international relations,” said Barry Hurewitz, a lawyer at the law firm of Hale and Dorr, a Washington, DC-based expert in Internet law.
The FSB lodged its criminal complaint against the FBI over evidence gathered in days after the November 2000 arrests of Gorshkov and of Alexey Ivanov.
Gorshkov was convicted of helping steal consumer credit card numbers. Ivanov is still waiting to be tried on numerous charges in several states.
The case was the first FBI undercover plan to successfully entice people accused of high-tech crimes to come to the US.
It was the first to use, in the FBI’s words,“extra-territorial seizure of digital evidence,” which led to another precedent: it is thought to be the first time a US agency has been formally accused of hacking into a foreign computer network.
The Russians complain that the FBI didn’t have authorisation to break into a computer system in Russia and download files. The FBI counters, and a U.S. judge agreed, that Russian law does not apply to the agents' actions.
The FBI lured the men, both of Chelyabinsk, Russia, to Seattle under the pretext of interviewing them for jobs at a company called “Invita,” which was actually an FBI front.
FBI agents asked them to demonstrate their ability to scan a computer network for security flaws and gave them permission to do so on a network designed for that purpose, Lundin said.