TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: kevinmrk.txt

Mitnick Case: NY Times Reporter Issues Weak Response to Charges of Libelous and Defamatory Reporting

                 NYTimes Reporter Issues Weak Response
             to Charges of Libelous and Defamatory Reporting
                               January 23, 2000

        Markoff Cites No Evidence in Support of Claim "I Stand by My Reporting"

          Mitnick Issues Public Challenge to "Reporter" to "Put Up or Shut Up"

The following press release was issued by Kevin Mitnick on January 24, 2000. Mr. Mitnick
is the copyright holder of this statement, and hereby gives permission for limited reuse and
republication under the Fair Use doctrine of U.S. Copyright Law. All other rights reserved.

In an article published by Robert Lemos on ZDNet's website (click here to view the article) on
Friday, January 21, John Markoff relied on a tired defense against the well-documented examples
of his libelous and defamatory "reporting" about me, and failed to provide any evidence in support
of his demonstrably false claims about me.

Unlike Mr. Markoff, I'll provide an item-by-item refutation of all of the empty claims made by Mr.
Markoff in the ZDNet article written by Mr. Lemos. And I'll remind the cadre of lawyers who
stand ready to sue anyone who accuses a New York Times reporter of libel: truth is an absolute
defense against a defamation case.

As an interesting footnote, Mr. Lemos is careful to use the word "allegedly" when describing my
charges against Mr. Markoff, a courtesy that Mr. Markoff apparently felt was unimportant to
observe in his defamatory July 4, 1994 article about me.

Item from ZDNet article
"New York Times reporter John Markoff.... called [Mitnick] "Cyberspace's most wanted."

Both Lemos and Mr. Markoff fail to note that Mr. Markoff provided no support whatsoever for
his claim that I was anyone's "most wanted." Indeed, Mr. Markoff's empty and unsupported claim
has been manipulated by media around the world into the specious claim that I was on the FBI's
10 Most Wanted List -- a claim that has been refuted by the FBI itself, according to Michael
White of the Associated Press.

Item from ZDNet article
In addition, [Mitnick] claims that Markoff crossed the line by bringing authorities and computer
expert Tsutomu Shimomura together to track him down.

This is not a "claim" that I've made -- my well-supported statements in this regard are based on
Mr. Markoff's own writings in the New York Times and in the book about me that earned Mr.
Markoff a million dollars for the book and movie rights. Either I'm correct, or Mr. Markoff
"misrepresented the facts" yet again in his public writings about me.

Item from ZDNet article
Markoff stood by his reporting, saying that the allegations were "really disappointing to me
because it suggests that in the past five years, and perhaps in the last 20 years, Kevin has not
learned anything. What he might have learned from all his time in prison is that it is wrong to break
into other people's computers. I don't think it is anymore complex than that."

Once again, Mr. Markoff lays claim to know what I've "learned," despite never having spoken
with me personally as he's earned a million dollars writing lies about my life since the publication of
his error-filled 1991 book, "Cyberpunk."

I've learned a great many things in the past 20 years; most importantly, I've learned that an
unethical reporter for the New York Times who had a vendetta against me had the power to
destroy my life, based on his publication of repeated inaccuracies and outright falsehoods. I'll
remind the reader that Mr. Markoff has failed to acknowledge a pre-existing relationship with me
and with Tsutomu Shimomura since the publication of his false and defamatory article about me on
July 4, 1994 -- Mr. Markoff has been hiding from the truth in this regard for five and a half years.

I have stated repeatedly that the crimes I committed were wrong, and that they were illegal. I
served nearly five years in prison as a result, and was forced to plead guilty to a fraud I did not
commit. As I said in my 21 January statement, I offered to plead guilty to the crimes I committed
shortly after my arrest. Sadly, Mr. Markoff demonstrates no such sense of responsibility as he
continues to insist his lies about me and my life qualify as "reporting."

Item from ZDNet article
Markoff pointed out that Mitnick had been arrested five times in the last 20 years for
computer-related crimes. "The problem is, and the reason the judge kept him away from
computers, (is that) this is the fifth time that he has been arrested. It's not like they haven't given
him chances," said Markoff.

Mr. Markoff is correct about the number of times I've been arrested, but he leaves out several
extremely important points: 1) as I said in my statement of 21 January, my actions and my life have
been manipulated and grossly misrepresented by the media since I was 17, when the Los Angeles
Times first violated the custom, if not the law, that prohibits publication of the names of juveniles
accused of crimes. 2) I made repeated attempts after my first arrest as a juvenile to obtain
legitimate employment, and that Los Angeles Times article was used repeatedly to justify firing me,
or to avoid hiring me in the first place. Mr. Markoff's libelous and defamatory reporting about me
is simply the culmination of a 15 year long process of the media's manipulation and abuse of me
and my life. His public pronouncements that he "stands by" his error-filled articles and books
about me is a source of great sadness for me.

Item from ZDNet article
Markoff also denied any ethical breach. "I won't get into the specifics on those three cases,"
Markoff said. "I want to say that I stand by my story, and to note that it was written while Kevin
was a fugitive from four law enforcement agencies, and that's why it was written."

Once again, Mr. Markoff's legendary selectivity in choosing what charges he will respond to, and
even whether he will respond at all, creates the appearance of reasonableness, even as he
attempts to avoid responsibility for destroying my life on the front page of the New York Times.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Markoff has apparently forgotten that one of the alleged victims in this
case, the internet service provider The Well, demanded that Mr. Markoff issue a retraction for
Mr. Markoff's overstatement of the damages claimed by Mr. Markoff to have been caused by

This is a public challenge to Mr. Markoff: defend your use of the five -- not three, but five --
egregious falsehoods stated as fact in your July 4, 1994 article by providing supporting
documentation, or issue a public retraction and apology for the libelous and defamatory writings
about me that you've published since 1991.

Surely no one can be surprised at Mr. Markoff's refusal to "get into specifics on those three cases"
(again, it's five egregious falsehoods, not three) -- I've made specific, well-documented charges
that Mr. Markoff published as many as 60 unsourced, and unproven, allegations that were stated
as fact, with five of those allegations qualifying as especially egregious falsehoods. Would you
want to be embarassed in the national media as I've embarassed Mr. Markoff, now that his
manipulation of the facts in this case has been exposed?

Unfortunately for Mr. Markoff, I have no such reluctance to discuss the facts in this case. Most
importantly, Mr. Markoff's memory has apparently failed him, as another author, Jonathan
Littman, related a story in his book about me "The Fugitive Game," that readily debunks Mr.
Markoff's unsupported, and apparently intentionally overstated, claims about my fugitive status.

In his book, Mr. Littman recounts a story of an investigator for a cellular telephone company in
Seattle, Washington, who had allegedly identified a large number of unidentified cellular phone
calls coming from an apartment. Despite notifying the Seattle Police Department, the Secret
Service and the FBI, that investigator was informed that the cellular phone calls he alleged were
placed by me were so insignificant that none of the agencies he contacted were willing to pursue
the case. Mr. Littman interviewed one of the law enforcement agents who had been contacted,
and that agent said (paraphrasing here), "If we had known that it was Kevin Mitnick, we would
have waited all night for him." Clearly, then, the "crimes" I was allegedly committing at the time
were not the issue; the issue was that my name was Kevin Mitnick. And why would my name be
so important? Because Mr. Markoff had written his libelous and defamatory article on the front
page of the New York Times just a few months earlier, in which he taunted law enforcement
officials to try and catch me.

In closing, I repeat my public challenge to Mr. Markoff: provide sources and support for the five
egregious falsehoods stated as fact in your libelous and defamatory article about me as published
by the New York Times on July 4, 1994, or issue a public retraction and apology.

I've paid my debt to society; it's about time you paid your debt to me. You can end your nine
year-long, million-dollar charade now, by accepting personal responsiblity for the grossly unethical
behavior you've displayed toward me.

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