Court battle over, ‘Neo’ wins

  • 2014-06-06
  • from wire reports, RIGA

Photo by Ilmārs Znotiņš

Riga Central District Court has acquitted University of Latvia researcher Ilmars Poikans, also known as "Neo," who was accused of unauthorized data downloads from the State Revenue Service's Electronic Declaration System (EDS), reports LETA.

Poikans told the press that he is pleased with the court's verdict, but regrets that both sides had to "waste so much time and resources." He indicated that during the hearing on June 4, the attorneys presented plenty of arguments in his favor, but what specifically persuaded the court was unclear.

When asked, if he came to court knowing that he would be acquitted, Poikans said that "hope dies last, and it did not die." He said that the positive aspect of his actions is the fact that state officials' salaries were made public and the state administration became more transparent.

Poikans said that if the prosecutor decides to appeal the court's verdict, he is ready to "fight until the end." He said that there is not a question of the severity of the penalty, as "even one hour of community service in this case would be a punishment too severe."

The prosecutor told the press that after she is done evaluating what had motivated the court's ruling, she will decide whether to appeal or not. The prosecutor declined to provide any further comments.
ABLV bank's representative, Janis Rozenbergs said that he agrees with the prosecutor and believes that community service would be an appropriate sentence, taking into account that "Poikans wished to do something for the good of society."

The prosecutor had demanded 280 hours of community service for Poikans.
The Finance and Economic Investigation Prosecutor's Office brought charges against Poikans who - according to the police - three years ago, using a hole in the Revenue Service's EDS system, obtained commercial information from the system.

The police believe that Poikans, after ascertaining a fault in the Revenue Service's EDS, obtained commercial information from the EDS - 250 electronic documents overall.

After the unauthorized download of the documents, Poikans viewed them, thereby violating the Commercial Law and the Freedom of Information Law's provisions on commercial secrets.

The police believe that Poikans, in downloading and later making public the EDS data that contained a large amount of information about companies and residents' personal data, infringed on these persons' right to privacy.

This carries a prison sentence of up to two years or community work, or a fine.

In 2010 Poikans was voted the "European Person of the Year in Latvia" for publishing information revealing that any unauthorized person could theoretically take advantage of a flaw in the EDS software and access taxpayers' records. He obtained 7.4 million classified files using a simple computer script that he had devised.