Despite Adobe changing its tune and calling for the release of the Russian programmer imprisoned at the company's behest, Dmitry Sklyarov remains in US federal custody.

Meanwhile protesters are focusing their attention on current US Attorney Robert Mueller, recently nominated as US Federal Bureau of Investigation director, urging the rejection of his candidacy as long as Sklyarov is jailed.

Sklyarov, the Russian programmer whose arrest at the end of the Def Con convention in Las Vegas almost ten days ago has sparked international protests and calls for a boycott of Adobe, was charged with violating the terms of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Copy protection The DMCA forbids the distribution or sale of information, tools or software designed to circumvent copy-protection schemes - the very violation Sklyarov is said to have committed in writing the program Advanced eBook Processor.

Advanced eBook Processor translates eBooks from Adobe's more secure, but also more restrictive eBook Reader format, to the company's less secure PDF (Portable Document Format).

Consumer rights The case may hinge on the DMCA, a law that has stirred up great controversy. Critics charge the law not only violates traditional consumer rights, such as fair use - the right to make personal copies of and quote from copyright material - but also violates the US Constitution by impinging free speech.

Sklyarov's arrest, for which a conviction could net him five years in prison or a US$500,000 fine, brought free speech, open source and consumer rights supporters into the streets of 21 cities worldwide on Monday to rally for Sklyarov's release.

In an unexpected turn of events late Monday, Adobe agreed to drop the charges against Sklyarov after meeting with representatives of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a cyber-rights group who had helped co-ordinate some of the initial protests. Adobe did not return repeated requests for comment for this article.

Despite Adobe's change of heart, Sklyarov may not go free. He remains in the custody of the US Marshals and is still scheduled to be transferred to San Jose from Las Vegas, Matthew J. Jacobs, an assistant US attorney in San Francisco said.