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Man fights felony hacking charge for accessing wife's email

Gmail showed her having extramarital affair

By Dan Goodin, 7 Dec 2011

A Michigan appeals court is trying to decide whether the state's anti hacking law should be invoked against a man who broke into his wife's Gmail account to see if she was having an affair.

Leon Walker, 34, faces a maximum of five years in prison for using a shared family computer to read his wife's personal email after she failed to return home one night. It turns out Clara Walker was indeed involved with another man, who just happened to be her previous husband.

Attorneys for Leon Walker told judges with the Michigan Court of Appeals that the law their client was charged under was ambiguous and was never intended for domestic matters. It was passed in 1979 and was designed to prevent identity and trade secret theft. They also warned if charges go forward the law could criminalize activities such as parents monitoring their children's online activities.

Judges hearing the case, according to USA Today, didn't sound so sure.

"Your client is being charged with security intellectual property – her email, accessing her intellectual property," judge Pat Donofrio said.

The three-judge panel is expected to issue an opinion next year.

More coverage from The Detroit News is here. ®