Paul Ceglia, the man New York prosecutors claim tried to defraud Mark Zuckerberg out of 50 percent ownership of Facebook has been released from a Quito prison. The release came a week after President Lenin Moreno denied a U.S. request for Ceglia’s extradition.
Interior Minister María Paula Romo said it was unfair for Ceglia to remain in prison following Moreno’s extradition denial. Ceglia had been held since July 2018 following his arrest in Salinas.
A native of New York state, Ceglia was ordered to stand trial in 2012 by a Buffalo judge on charges that he had falsely claimed to own half of Facebook. In 2003, Ceglia had initiated legal action against Facebook based on a contract he said he and Zuckerberg had signed while they were students at Harvard University that gave him 50 percent ownership of the company. A judge ruled that the contract was a forgery.
Ceglia was awaiting trial in 2015 when he removed a court-ordered tracking bracelet and fled to Ecuador with his wife and dog.
Prior to his arrest in Ecuador, Ceglia lived in the Cuenca suburb of Challuabamba for two years.
Romo said that Moreno’s denial of extradition was unrelated to the New York legal case and based entirely on “humanitarian” grounds. She said the fact that Ceglia has a son who was born in Cuenca was the key factor in the decision.
An independent news website reported, however, that the real reason for the Ceglia’s release was the U.S. rejection of a request by President Lenin Moreno to swap Ceglia for two Ecuadorian fugitives living in Miami.
For more about the Ceglia case, click here.