Updated at 7:55 a.m. PT on Wednesday to specify that the FBI cleared Mitnick of any wrongdoing in this event.
Since being released from prison eight years ago, Kevin Mitnick's brushes with the law have consisted of a few parking tickets and a citation for driving without a front license plate--that is, until he returned from a trip to Colombia two weeks ago.
After landing at the Atlanta airport for a security conference, Mitnick was detained for four hours for reasons still not fully explained. To make matters worse, while customs officials in Atlanta were busy inspecting his cell phone, laptop, and luggage, police in Bogota were ripping open a package he had mailed to his U.S. address on suspicion that it contained cocaine.
The simultaneous incidents gave Mitnick deja vu of his days as a fugitive pursued by the FBI for breaking into computer networks, only this time, he hadn't broken any laws.
"There was uncertainty, fear, and panic because I didn't know what was going on, and I didn't do anything wrong," he said in a recent telephone interview with CNET News. "In my mind, I thought I was being set up for something."
Here's a rundown of what happened:
Mitnick's Delta Airlines plane landed in Atlanta on September 16 at around 3 p.m. He had flown in from Bogota, where he had gone to give a speech to the newspaper El Tiempo and to visit his girlfriend.
The first sign of trouble was when a U.S. customs agent swiped his passport through the computer system and started staring intently at the screen and typing. "Kevin," the agent said with a big smile on his face. "Guess what? There are some people downstairs who want to have a word with you, but don't worry. Everything will be OK." … Read more