Geohot heads on holiday, mid-PS3 legal battle

The ongoing legal dramas between Sony and hacker George Hotz (aka GeoHot) have just taken an interesting turn, as reports start circulating that the 21-year old has fled the United States, heading to South America.

George Hotz - Life's Good

"Life's Good," says Hotz on holiday

According to George’s own [surl=http://geohotgotsued.blogspot.com/2011/03/fearmongering.html]blog[/surl], yes, he is in South America. But he didn’t “flee”, instead he’s taking a Spring Break vacation that he had “planned and paid for since November”.

He explains that he’s been in contact with his lawyers every day – something backed up by his legal team, who comment that “He has done nothing to make himself unavailable”.

The reports that George has not cooperated with court orders to hand over his “hacking gear” have also been blown out of the water.

Recently, a federal magistrate approved an order from Sony that saw George hand over all of his “hacking gear” – including PS3 consoles, computers and other equipment. The court stipulated that the electronics must be untouched – but Sony claim that “edits were made” before handing the gear over. Of course, this means that key evidence is now missing, leaving a bit of a hole in Sony‘s prosecution.

A new [surl=http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/3:2011cv00167/235965/103/0.pdf]court document[/surl] (pdf link) includes this statement:

“After Magistrate Judge Spero ordered an inspection of Hotz’s devices and ordered Hotz to appear at a deposition in California, SCEA learned that Hotz had deliberately removed integral components of his impounded hard drives prior to delivering them to a third party neutral and that Hotz is now in South America, an excuse for why he will not immediately provide the components of his hard drives as requested by the neutral.”

Now though, we hear that the “integral components” are stock controller cards – and they have since been provided to the court.

George also denied he had a PSN account (because having an account means agreeing to the Terms of Use), but the clever sorts at Sony say that when he (allegedly) purchased a new PS3 in February 2010, Hotz used that console to set up an account under the name “blickmaniac”. This is a name George had used previously on various web forums, to discuss iPhone jailbreaking. Could be a coincidence, but Sony seem pretty convinced.

Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick, former hacker

One person who’s not taking Sony‘s word on this whole drama is perhaps the most famous hacker of them all, [surl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mitnick]Kevin Mitnick[/surl]. He took to [surl=https://twitter.com/#!/kevinmitnick/status/50711949272551424]Twitter[/surl] today to voice his opinions on the matter:

George Hotz’s evasion is very likely a hoax… It’s not the FBI.. Been there, done that.

In 1992, a warrant was issued for Mitnick’s arrest, after he hacked into Pacific Bell voice mail computers. Mitnick fled, and evaded the authorities for more than two years before being arrested in February 1995. He served five years in prison, including eight months in solitary confinement – so yes, he knows what he’s talking about.

The court is yet to decide on this new motion, but – at the moment – it’s all a big case of “He said, She said”, with egos on both sides not willing to take the blame.

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