An Australian man facing extradition to the United States over
online-piracy charges will find it extremely difficult to defend himself should
the U.S. efforts succeed, his lawyer asserts.
Antony Townsden, a Legal Aid Commission lawyer representing Hew Raymond
Griffiths, said his client would have a tough time finding legal representation
and accessing materials if he is extradited. Townsden made the assertions after
the United States won its latest legal battle with Griffiths and he returned to
jail in Sydney this week.
U.S. authorities won an appeal against an earlier court finding in March that
there was no
"The question there is...why is he not being processed in this country?"
Townsden said. "There is a feeling that he is being head-hunted by the U.S.
Griffiths is the only alleged member of the software piracy group DrinkorDie
whose extradition is being sought, Townsden said.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, DrinkorDie illegally copied and
distributed more than $50 million worth of pirated software, movies, games and
music before U.S. investigators raided
the group in 2001. Griffiths
allegedly was the group's top leader.
Several members of the group--which allegedly specialized in "cracking"
software by getting around embedded copyright protections and distributing it
via the Internet--have already been convicted in the United States, while others
face charges in Britain.
"I think it's an unfortunate situation," Townsden said. "A number of people
from the U.S. are dealt with in the U.S., and those from the U.K. are dealt with
in the U.K. The only person we are aware of in the whole group where extradition
has been sought is an Australian. I think it's good enough to say they might
find it easier to get (a) prosecution if it's in another country."
Townsden also accused Australian authorities of hiding behind the legal
definition of "citizen." Griffiths arrived in Australia from the United Kingdom
when he was 7 years old and has never left the country. Townsden said he does
not know what Griffiths' citizenship is but that Griffiths consider himself an
If the extradition and prosecution in the United States succeeds, Griffiths
faces up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000. Townsden said
that under Australian copyright laws, Griffiths faces a maximum sentence of five
Griffiths was indicted last year for one count of conspiracy to commit
criminal copyright infringement and one count of copyright infringement.
Townsden said Griffiths' legal team is seeking further advice for grounds to
appeal within 15 days.
Kristyn Maslog-Levis of ZDNet
Australia reported from Syndey.