British hacker fined in Emirates

Published July 2nd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A court has fined a 22-year-old British computer engineer for hacking into the network of state-run telecoms company Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

 

Lee Ashhurst from Oldham, England, who pleaded not guilty and told the Dubai court that he did not realize what he was doing was illegal, was convicted Sunday of misusing "equipment, services or facilties provided by Etisalat". 

 

He was found not guilty on a second charge of opening other people's e-mail. However the court also sent the case to the civil courts where Etisalat is seeking compensation of 770,000 dollars for four days of lost business. 

 

Etisalat, the UAE's sole Internet service provider, experienced major web disruptions in June 2000. 

Defence lawyer Habib Al Mulla Ashurst told Khaleej Times that Ashurst would appeal. 

 

"We were hoping Lee would be acquitted on both charges. He was convicted of illegal entry into Etisalat's systems but we are going to file an appeal because there is no such law which criminalises such an action," the lawyer said. 

 

The Briton, who lost his job with a construction company in May 2000, has since been stranded in the UAE waiting for the case to be settled. 

 

His passport and laptop were confiscated after he was questioned by Etisalat officials and police officers who raided his apartment in Dubai, the Internet, trading and leisure hub of the UAE. 

 

A federal cabinet committee has been set up to draft new legislation on cyber-crime. — (AFP) 

 

© Agence France Presse 

 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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