April 12, 2019 / 2:04 AM / 7 months ago

U.S. man charged for extortion of Facebook seeks asylum in Ecuador: lawyer

QUITO (Reuters) - A New York man charged with trying to defraud Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg is seeking asylum in Ecuador, where he was arrested in 2018 after fleeing the United States more than three years ago to avoid facing trial.

An Ecuadorean court in November had authorized the extradition of wood pellet salesman Paul Ceglia, who faced U.S. charges of mail fraud and wire fraud over allegations he forged documents to extort Facebook and Zuckerberg.

Paul Ceglia expressed his “desire to receive territorial asylum from the Ecuadorean state, and there is a formal request to the Ecuadorean government,” Ceglia’s lawyer, Roberto Calderon, said in a telephone interview.

Ceglia believes that he would be in danger if he was returned to the United States, the lawyer said.

The Ecuadorean Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ceglia had sued Zuckerberg in 2010 saying he had signed a contract in 2003 while studying at Harvard University that gave him half of the planned social network site that would become Facebook.

Calderon said the Ecuadorean Foreign Ministry asked the Interior Ministry to suspend his extradition to the United States until the asylum request is resolved.

Ecuador on Thursday ended the asylum of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the country’s embassy in London, leading to his arrest.

Reporting by Jose Llangari and Alexandra Valencia; editing by Grant McCool

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