Ecuador frees Southern Tier man wanted over Facebook scheme
QUITO, Ecuador (AP/WENY) - Ecuador has released a New York man and turned down an extradition request from the United States, where he was arrested after falsely claiming he was owed half-ownership of Facebook.
A lawyer for Paul Ceglia on Tuesday tweeted a judge's order that the American be released and confirming that his extradition to the U.S. had been denied.
In an apparent criticism of the United States, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno referred in a recently released letter to cases when the U.S. didn't heed Ecuador's own requests for the extradition of citizens who allegedly committed crimes.
Ceglia had claimed he gave Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg $1,000 in startup money. He was arrested on fraud charges in the United States in 2012, but later fled to Ecuador. He was arrested there last year.
Ceglia, who lived in Wellsville, fought extradition from the South American country. According to Sputnik News, Ceglia said he wanted asylum because he fears for his life and the safety of his family. He was caught in Ecuador back in August of 2018.
As WENY News previously reported, Ceglia is accused of cutting off his home arrest monitoring bracelet, and escaped the country with his wife and kids back in 2015. Federal prosecutors says Ceglia fabricated a contract and multiple emails with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg, and could face up to 20 years behind bars once convicted.