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Hacker faces possible Cisco code theft charges

The case of the "Uppsala hacker" in Sweden may have international ramifications after the Swedish Supreme Court affirmed the conviction in the Court of Appeals.

This decision means that the Swedish prosecutor may take over the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe of the alleged hacking of Cisco, which has been going on for several years.

In parallel with the Swedish prosecution of the 19-year old hacker from Uppsala, the FBI has been collecting evidence and fingered the Uppsala hacker as the perpetrator of a hack against Cisco. This crime is said to have taken place at approximately the same time as the crimes he was found guilty of, including hacks against several of Sweden's most prestigious universities and the National Supercomputer Centre in Linköping.

The decision of the Supreme Court of Sweden not to overturn the conviction means that nothing now prevents Sweden from granting the US request of a complete investigation, and later, bringing a court case against the teenager for the Cisco hack.

"That possibility is now open," says Chatrine Rudström, chamber prosecutor in Uppsala.

The US request was initiated by local prosecutors and the FBI. There have been high-level contacts between the US and Swedish departments of justice. All letters concerning this matter are classified, but there are strong indications that a request was submitted to Sweden in mid-December 2006.

The conviction does not necessarily imply that the Cisco hack will result in a court case. However, the two cases have much in common, and the Supreme Court's opinion is bound to influence Rudström's decision.

"There is evidence on the man's computer that can be linked to the Cisco hack. Also, he has the same view of both cases," she said.

The US has already been granted some of its demands of Sweden. After filing a request of legal aid, Swedish investigators have questioned the man about the Cisco intrusions.

The Cisco hack was discovered in 2005, as it emerged that the secret source code for networking equipment had been copied by somebody who gained access to Cisco's servers. After the crackdown in Sweden, the hacks ceased, according to an FBI statement released at the time.

The Uppsala hacker admits to having made the tools used in the hacks, but denies having committed any of them.

"He insists that the court of appeals made the wrong decision," says Thomas Olsson, the lawyer of the Uppsala hacker. "Considering the weak argumentation, it might be possible that a different court might find differently."

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