We want our electronics back before deportation, American ‘hacker’ couple says
An American couple arrested on suspicion of being involved in cybercrime will be deported on Tuesday, after spending 35 days in police custody.
Larry Peckham and Denise Huitron, have been on detention at the Muthaiga Police Station, despite being vindicated of the crime they had been arrested for. They were, however, found with expired visas.
“We were arrested because police thought we were involved in cybercrime, since we had communicated with the man they said was a main suspect, but police later said they did not have any evidence linking us to cybercrime,” Mr Peckham said.
Police arrested the couple together with a former police officer, Calvin Ogolla a Kenya Revenue Authority employee and 13 other suspects in connection to the hacking of the Kenya Revenue Authority systems.
The suspects were arraigned in court.
Some of them, including the couple were released but police detained others, including Mr Ogolla and Alex Mutunga Mutuku, among others.
Mr Peckham alleged that police had not returned the property they seized from them for investigations, despite the court ordering the Fying Squad and the Special Crimes Prevention Unit to do so.
“The court asked them to escort us to our apartment so that we can park our belongings, but they have not done so,” said Mr Peckham.
He said that police had also failed to return their two laptops, five phones and some documents.
“We have contacted the US embassy and they told us that the police were holding our electronics for investigations, but we are wondering what they are still investigating, if they did not find anything linking us to cybercrime. We do not want to leave the country without our belongings,” he said.
Mr Pekham said he came to Kenya three years ago to follow-up on a company that defrauded his company of Sh40 million.
“Someone referred me to Calvin Ogola whom he said was a banker who would help me with solving the mystery. I had a ten-minute meeting with him. I had never met him before and when we did, he told me that he was actually an IT expert,” Mr Pekham said.
Mr Peckham’s wife, Denise Huitron said one of the police officers had ignored the court order and told them blatantly that they would not get their property back.
“If our visas had expired and we did not do any other crime, why have the police taken our belongings and refused to return them? All we want is for them to give us our belongings so that we can return home and continue with our lives,” She said.
The couple is set to be deported aboard the Lufthansa Airline at 10pm Tuesday night.
But their lawyer, Ronald Oyieko on Monday vowed to block their deportation until they are handed back their electronics, documents and other belongings.
“It is a policy within the Immigration Department that whoever is deported should be allowed to get their belongings. The police have to give my clients their electronics. It is their right,” Mr Oyieko said.