UPDATE: Sony Claims Hotz Destroys Evidence, Flees to South America in Jailbreak Case

UPDATE: Sony Claims Hotz Destroys Evidence, Flees to South America in Jailbreak Case

by March 23, 2011

“Very Serious Questions” Raised, Says Sony

The website VGHQ reports Sony has filed a brief with the US District Court detailing, among other things, that George Hotz allegedly rendered evidence in the ongoing lawsuit against him unusable, and may have fled to South America.

Sony alleges Hotz “engaged in a campaign to thwart jurisdictional discovery at every turn –regardless of whether the Court has ordered such discovery or not,” according to court documents.  The company alleges that after a federal magistrate ordered Hotz’s hard drives to be turned over in the case, he “deliberately removed integral components of his impounded hard drives.”

Hotz then allegedly went to South America and is using it as an excuse not to turn over those necessary components.  Counsel for Hotz confirms he is in South America, and a recent post on Hotz’s blog appears to confirm.  There are reports he may be in Argentina, but it is not clear if he is there permanently or simply on vacation.  Other reports suggest Hotz did not turn over controller drives needed to operate the drives, and that his counsel suggests he technically does not have to do so, doing the bare minimum to comply with court orders.

Sony says in its filing that “[….] Hotz’s attempts to dodge this Court’s authority raise very serious questions.”

And they’re right.  As we reported several weeks ago, Hotz sought donations from the public, and the public showed tremendous support; it’s believed Hotz raised tens of thousands of dollars in a weekend.  But many donators who believed that money was to go toward legal fees are now wondering if they’ve financed Hotz’s escape south or, at the very least, a temporary, lavish retreat.

UPDATE: Hotz has updated his blog to reassure followers the trip he’s on was planned, and temporary:

Factually, it’s true I’m in South America, on a vacation I’ve had planned and paid for since November. I mean, it is Spring break; hacking isn’t my life. Rest assured that not a dime of legal defense money would ever go toward something like this. And of course Townsend loves the idea of painting me as an international fugitive. I have been in contact with my lawyers almost every day; I would not let the case suffer. That said, I also won’t let this ridiculous lawsuit run my life either. Then the fearmongerers win.

Sony also alleges in its filing that they’ve uncovered evidence Hotz has an active Playstation Network account, blickmanic, contradicting Hotz’s claims of not having one.  Users of the PSN must agree to its User Agreement, including submitting to personal jurisdiction in California.  All of this as Sony tries to convince the courts to keep the case in California instead of Hotz’s northern New Jersey residence.

We will continue to track developments on this evolving matter.