The New York man accused of attempting to defraud Mark Zuckerberg of ownership of Facebook has been ordered extradited from Ecuador to the U.S. National Court of Justice Judge Paulina Aguirre issued the order Thursday for Paul Ceglia who has been held in preventive detention in Quito since his August 23 arrest.
Ceglia’s attorney, Roberto Calderón, said he plans to appeal the ruling. Two previous appeals for Ceglia’s release were denied based on Aguirre’s belief that Ceglia was a flight risk.
Awaiting trial in New York in March 2015, 45-year-old Ceglia removed a court-ordered GPS ankle bracelet and fled to Ecuador with his family. For most of the three subsequent years, Ceglia lived under an assumed name in Cuenca.
At the time he came to Ecuador, a judge in Buffalo, New York, had already thrown out Ceglia’s claim to half of Facebook, ruling that he forged a 2003 contract and fabricated emails between him and Zuckerberg when the two were students at Harvard University. Ceglia, who denied any wrongdoing, was charged criminally in 2012 and ordered to wear the ankle bracelet until he stood trial.
Cuenca expats Vadim and Eugenia Avdeev are credited with providing information to law enforcement officials that led to Ceglia’s arrest. Vadim, a cyber security and cryptography expert from Russia, was working with Ceglia on several internet encryption projects when he became suspicious. “He [Ceglia] was interested in protecting his identity and communications,” Vadim says. “This is my specialty but I became concerned when he began questing the progress of my work and started making threats.”
Vadim discovered Ceglia’s true identity online and Eugenia contacted the FBI and Ecuadorian National Police. For details leading to Ceglia’s arrest, click here.
According to Calderón, Ceglia’s extradition order is for the crime of electronic fraud and not for postal fraud, for which Ceglia had also been charged.