Belfast Telegraph

Facebook told to release documents

Facebook must release documents to a lawyer whose client has fled from criminal charges that he falsely claimed a majority ownership in the social media giant.

New York Judge Vernon Broderick issued an order yesterday against Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.

He gave them until Monday to relinquish documents requested by Paul Ceglia's lawyer.

The judge rejected a request that documents not be turned over until Ceglia is caught.

Documents requested include all electronic communications Mr Zuckerberg had about a Ceglia contract in an 18-month stretch beginning in 2003.

Ceglia cut off his electronic ankle bracelet last month and fled. His wife, two children and dog are also missing. The family lived in Wellsville, 70 miles south-east of Buffalo.

The judge said he received a letter on Thursday from lawyers for Facebook and Mr Zuckerberg asking that an order he issued earlier in the week to promptly turn over requested documents be suspended until Ceglia is caught.

Ceglia's father told the judge at a hearing last week he thought his son might have fled because he believed Facebook and Mr Zuckerberg were working with prosecutors against him, jeopardising his chance for a fair trial.

The judge said he would not allow a trial to proceed unjustly.

Prosecutors had urged the judge not to force Facebook and Mr Zuckerberg to turn over the documents, saying doing so would "reward Ceglia's flouting of the judicial process while unreasonably drawing on the resources of the government and the authority of the court".

The criminal case against Ceglia was brought after a judge threw out his 2010 civil lawsuit claiming that he gave Mr Zuckerberg, a student at Harvard University at the time, 1,000 dollars (£670) in start-up money in exchange for 50% of the future company.

Prosecutors said a forensic analysis of his computers and Harvard's email archive showed Ceglia had altered an unrelated software development contract he signed with Mr Zuckerberg in 2003 and falsified emails to make it appear Mr Zuckerberg had promised him a half-share of Facebook.

Mr Zuckerberg has said he did did come up with the idea for Facebook until months after he responded to Ceglia's online help-wanted ad and signed a contract agreeing to create some software for him.

Ceglia's lawyer, Robert Ross Fogg, said in an email on Wednesday that he and others "continue to fight for Paul, even in his absence, with the same vigour and fortitude and in a sense - more determined than ever".

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