Accused Etisalat hacker pleads not guilty

Lee Ashurst has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to Etisalat's Internet service being hacked last year, but Dubai Prosecutors say he has already confessed.

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By  Rob Corder Published  February 12, 2001

Dubai Prosecutors have given their first glimpse into the case they have prepared against Lee Ashurst, the 21-year old Briton accused of hacking Etisalat’s Internet service.

The case received its first hearing yesterday, but the trial was suspended after Ashurst pleaded not guilty and his lawyer, Dr. Habib Al Mulla, asked the court for a copy of the prosecutors case file in order to prepare his defense.

The court will reconvene on March 11.

The Dubai Prosecution has charged Ashurst with misusing the Internet service for illegal purposes under Article No. 46/b of Federal Law No. 1 for 1990, which deals with Etisalat. In addition, prosecutors are quoting Article No. 380 of Federal Penal Law No. 3, which covers opening other people’s mail.

Prosecutors say that among other evidence from the Dubai Criminal Laboratory and an Etisalat technical report, they are holding a confession from Ashurst.

Al Mulla did not answer any of these allegations.

Gulf News’ report on the trial states that Etisalat alleges that on June 21, Ashurst misused the Internet service for illegal purposes using two hacking programs: “Saint” and “Jack the Ripper,” which were installed on his laptop computer.

These programs, according to Etisalat, enabled him to decipher the passwords of some of Etisalat’s employees and enter sites forbidden to network users.

It was also alleged that Ashurst had copied the password file of Etisalat’s managers as well as the e-mail files of some employees. Some Etisalat employee e-mails were opened, according to the prosecution.

When Dubai Police raided Ashurst’s home and confiscated his computer, they found programs and files related to hacking, scanning Internet networks, deciphering passwords and user names.

Evidence has been compiled that prosecutors say shows Ashurst had hacked Etisalat servers more than once. They state that he had the names and passwords of three Etisalat employees that gave him access to restricted sites.

There were no specific allegations made regarding the type of damage Ashurst is accused of inflicting. The prosecution simply gave an account of Etisalat’s degraded service during May and June of last year and said that an investigation into the difficulties led to the raid on Ashurst’s apartment.

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