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U.S. To Drop Charges Against Sklyarov 329

Schmerd writes: "The New York Times has a story saying that charges will be dropped against Dmitry Sklyarov in exchange for his testimony against his employer ElcomSoft." Si adds: "It looks like Dmitri might be home for Christmas. This is not the end of the trial, but it appears Dmitri has been freed, pending certain stipulations." jij adds this breaking news article on the Associated Press wire as well. (The AP story is also at Wired). Update: 12/13 22:23 GMT by T : links to a slightly more in-depth AP report at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
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U.S. To Drop Charges Against Sklyarov

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  • Nice deal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by czardonic ( 526710 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:15PM (#2701342) Homepage
    So, all he has to do is sacrifice is livelihood by ratting out his employer? When is are the Miranda Rights going to be officially changed to "Your money or your life."
  • by tcyun ( 80828 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:19PM (#2701373) Journal

    In today's agreement, Dmitry will be required to testify for the government and ElcomSoft expects him to testify for their case as well. The story Dmitry has to tell is exactly the same regardless of which side calls him to testify. Dmitry's story has not changed since that day in July, when the FBI arrested him in Las Vegas, and he is quite happy to tell his story again and again, if need be.

    - from the planetpdf article

    To say that he is going to testify "against" his employer seems to be a bit much. The various articles say that he will testify and that it is unsure which side will call him first.
  • come one (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:21PM (#2701388)
    The Times carried the AP wire. Wired carried the AP wire. You also linked to the AP directly. Don't the editors read before they publish? They're all the same!
  • by brulman ( 183184 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:28PM (#2701438)
    "...Joe Burton, lead attorney for ElcomSoft, reacted to today's outcome saying "I want to make a statement on behalf of ElcomSoft, my client -- Both my client and I have, since the beginning of this case, maintained Dmitry's innocence on any and all criminal activity. From day-one of the arrest ElcomSoft has been willing to have the Government proceed against them and NOT Dmitry. Burton further states "you may remember that ElcomSoft offered to take Dmitry's place and substitute the company as the sole defendant in this case -- The company knows that neither Dmitry nor they committed any criminal acts and believes that in the end, they will be found innocent of any and all charges the U.S. Government is bringing against them as well...."

    you know, this guy has a real class act employer.
  • by msouth ( 10321 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:31PM (#2701455) Homepage Journal
    ...a la the Damian Conway purchase. Anyone in the right place to set up a little "hey, sorry our country hassled you, here's something for your trouble" fund? Or am I just being naieve thinking, well, among other things, that I can spell naieve?
  • by chuckw ( 15728 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:34PM (#2701461) Homepage Journal
    What does it matter if he testifies against his company? The US can't do a darn thing to them since they aren't in this country. Look at the DeBeers monopoly. Diamonds aren't rare at all, but DeBeers made some strategic agreements with countries to keep most of the supply locked up. Now the DeBeers executives will be arrested if they ever enter this country. That judgement hasn't done a darn thing. DeBeers still operates and so will ElmComsoft(SP?). I think it's just the justice department's way of saying, "Yeah, it's a stupid law, but we'd look stupid if we just let you go, so we're going to ask you to do something stupid so we can save face."
  • by idonotexist ( 450877 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:50PM (#2701552)
    I would be first in line to purchase it.
  • Marbury vs Madison (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2001 @07:13PM (#2701658)
    The Supreme Court took this power upon itself, way back when (sorry, I forget the case where they decided it).

    The case was Marbury vs Madison. Probably the singularly most important Opinion ever delivered by the SC

    Actually the case wasn't decided at all... it was never actually *heard* by the SC because a law passed by Congress had been used by Marbury to try to get "original jurisdiction" of his case in the SC and the SC decided that the law extending the SC's scope of "original jurisdiction" was what was found to be unconstitutional and hence the case had to come up thru the lower courts before it could even be heard in the SC. Marbury was trying to "short circuit" the judicial process and jump immediately to the top. Incredibly, it can be viewed that this monumental decision of the SC actually "reduced" its power in one way (deleting additional jurisdiction which Congress had granted to it) which increasing its power in another (grabbing the authority to nullify Congress's legislations).
  • Alexander Katalov (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrotherPope ( 8102 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @07:13PM (#2701659)
    ElComSoft's chief executive, Alex Katalov, said he was pleased that the company, not Sklyarov, would bear sole responsibility for the charges.

    Hands down, Mr. Katalov is the coolest employer I've ever seen. Since Dmitry's arrest, he had been front-and-center, doing what it took to get Dmitry free regardless of the risk. Thomas C. Greene [mailto] raised this issue in an article [] in The Register [] a while back and it got my attention. But I am very impressed that he continued to put responsibility on his company when Dmitry would have provided a convenient scapegoat.
  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @07:35PM (#2701788) Homepage
    Hes a conservative. Conservatives want LESS government laws and intervention and are about freedom. Then again most people here aren't old enough to remember Tipper Gore and the RIAA in the 80's (Are they republican?)
  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @10:58PM (#2702628) Homepage
    That sums up part of the deal. For one year, he has to not break American law WHILE HE IS LIVING IN RUSSIA.

    Is this Pournelle's American Empire at last? Has anyone noticed that the DOJ now claims worldwide powers?

    So fast, so fast it's happening...
  • by speederaser ( 473477 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @11:58PM (#2702817)
    He is not within the jurisdiction of the DMCA, since he did not develop the software on American soil and he did not distribute the software in America.

    Actually, ElcomSoft DID distribute the software in America. For profit. According to the complaint, an Adobe employee ordered the software over the internet as an FBI agent watched. It was paid for with American dollars through Paypal.

    When Adobe received the package at their American address, it was opened in front of the FBI. The Adobe employee then demonstrated to the FBI that the software could, indeed, decrypt their books. The rest is history.

    Dmitry was also caught distributing the software at DefCon, but I think he was giving it away, not selling it.

    ElcomSoft would have been fine if they didn't sell the software to anyone in the U.S. That's pretty simple, really - just don't ship anything to a U.S. address. If you're going to sell a product in a foreign country, you should at least make yourself aware of how the laws in that country pertain to your product.

    There's a reason Budweiser doesn't ship to Saudi Arabia - alcohol is illegal there. (Which is a bit ironic because it was Arabs who invented beer in the first place). I put that law on the same level as the DMCA in backwardness, but hey, it's their country and they can have whatever laws they want.

    The difference between Budweiser and ElcomSoft is that Budweiser respects the laws of other countries, no matter how backward they may seem.

  • Well, for what it's worth... any court can overturn any law over which it has jurisdiction. Trial (state circuit, federal district) courts don't have the right to rule on the merits of a law: they try fact, they assume the law is good.

    Once they decide on fact, an appellate court (state appellate, federal circuit) has the right to rule on the merits of a law / interpretation of law. For an ever popular example: Microsoft will always be a monopolist who has abused its power, no matter what an appellate court will ever say, unless it says that the legal reasoning in coming to that conclusion was somehow flawed.

    But the appellate court can say that the something in the law is wrong... that ol' Jackson was not impartial in his remedy, even that the law means for Microsoft to be explicitly exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act. They can quite literally say the law means anything they want it to. In truth it is here where laws get "overturned" (they can make any judge quake in his boots at the prospect of having a decision overturned by the precedent set)

    The Supreme Court reviews the judiciousness of the appellate court, or can short-circuit the appellate level entirely (and can also hear a trial in original jurisdiction). For example, if an appellate panel had said that the Sherman Act was meant to exempt Microsoft the Supreme Court would likely laugh the whole way through their opinion sustaining the original trial court findings.

    So, to cut a long story middling, what happens in the trial court doesn't matter, but it doesn't really have to make it all the way to the Supreme Court if the appellate decision is thoughtful, and comes out from some respected judges.

    By the way, only a small proprtion of cases, maybe 5% are heard on appeal, and of those only another small fraction of those appealed are successful. Very few appeals decisions are heard by the Supreme Court (maybe five percent of the five percent where the appellants file for a further appeal).

  • by jdoeii ( 468503 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @02:22AM (#2703134)
    > you know, this guy has a real class act
    > employer.

    This "class act employer" is responsible for a good chunk of Internet spam. Elcomsoft makes Advanced Direct Remailer, Advanced Email Extractor and a whole bunch of spam tools. Elcomsoft's web site had been in the MAPS RBL. They still keep selling their spam tools. These guys are crooks and should be put out of business. It just a coincidence that they are appearing in a freedom of speech litigation.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp