Updated: PS3 Hacker Geohot Flees to South America?

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And he's off! It looks like PS3 hacker George Hotz, aka Geohot, isn't taking any chances with Sony's legal juggernaut. He may--and we stress may--have fled to South America. He may also have lied about not having a PlayStation Network account.

That's the story from Sony, anyway. Here's what Sony claims in an official legal filing related to the case Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC v. Hotz et al, noticed by VGHQ (my emphasis).

Though the evidence establishing personal jurisdiction is already overwhelming, SCEA has little doubt that there is much more. However, over the last several weeks Hotz has engaged in a campaign to thwart jurisdictional discovery at every turn--regardless of whether the Court has ordered such discovery or not.

Most seriously, after Magistrate Judge Spero ordered an inspection of Hotz’s devices and ordered Hotz to appear at a deposition in California, SCEA learned that Hotz had deliberately removed integral components of his impounded hard drives prior to delivering them to a third party neutral and that Hotz is now in South America, an excuse for why he will not immediately provide the components of his hard drives as requested by the neutral.

Hotz’s attempts to dodge this Court’s authority raise very serious questions.

Sony was recently granted subpoena access to Hotz's PayPal account, and earlier secured a subpoena to view the IP addresses of anyone who accessed Hotz's site from January 2009 forward.

None of this nullifies the question of whether hacking your PS3 is illegal, but as not-smart legal moves go, this one could shortly be a top-tenner.

Update: The BBC reports that while Hotz is acknowledging he is in fact in South America, the trip was planned "for months" and that he remains in contact with his lawyers. On his blog, Hotz wrote:

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.

Hotz's response leaves Sony's allegations that he left the country to avoid turning over his hardware unchallenged, but does diminish media intimations the trip is related.

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