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Australian Extradited For Breaking US Law At Home 777

Posted by kdawson
from the no-safe-haven dept.
An anonymous reader sends us a link to a report in The Age about an Australian resident, who had never set foot in the US and broke US intellectual-property laws in Australia, being extradited to the US to face trial. Hew Raymond Griffiths pleaded guilty in Virginia to overseeing all aspects of the operation of the group Drink Or Die, which cracked copy-protected software and media products and distributed them for free. He faces up to 10 years in a US jail and half a million dollars in fines.
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Australian Extradited For Breaking US Law At Home

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  • Sad (Score:4, Informative)

    by dsanfte (443781) on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:44AM (#19017983) Journal
    It's been common knowledge for years that Howard is Bush's lapdog, but if his government isn't even willing to protect its own citizens from foreign prosecutions, how can you really say Australia isn't just a puppet state of the US?
    • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:55AM (#19018037)
      Most countries have extradition treaties, meaning they've specifically agreed to send citizens to foreign countries to face prosecution if a formal request is made. You actually want it this way. Wouldn't be much fun if criminals could commit crimes with impunity just because they weren't physically in a country. Now I'm not saying software piracy should be one of those crimes, but let's be real here. What if there was an organized crime boss, living in the US, ordering the deaths of Australian citizens? Would you want the US to extradite him to face justice or would you want them to say "Well he wasn't committing any crimes here, and since he's not in Australia you can't have him, sorry."

      Since we don't want criminals using national borders to shield themselves, a large number of nations have extradition treaties with each other. There are restrictions on those treaties, for example Canada can refuse to extradite in cases where the person would face the death penalty, but in general if it is a legit request, the extradition is honoured.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bob MacSlack (623914) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:10AM (#19018133)
        Except in your example the crime boss is committing a crime under US law on US soil. I don't believe the law differentiates who is being killed in that case. I honestly can't think of any reason why someone should be extradited in this way. If you are doing something which is legal in your home country, should another country be able to extradite you? No. It's not illegal. If you're doing something that is illegal in your home country, should another country be able to extradite you? No. You should be charged under the laws of your own country.

        The only reason any of this seems OK is because it's going on between countries with similar laws. If the laws of two countries are too different nobody would thing it was a good idea. It would be like the US trying to extradite someone from Amsterdam for smoking pot. What if Iran decided it wants to extradite someone for breaking their laws? Doesn't seem like such a good idea does it?
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dajak (662256) on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:39AM (#19018613)
          It would be like the US trying to extradite someone from Amsterdam for smoking pot.

          The Netherlands does actually get dozens of US extradition requests a year for drugs related crimes, and regularly does extradite Dutch citizens for engaging in drugs transactions with Americans and in some cases even with DEA agents operating on Dutch soil. It's a major political issue here, but the major (conservative) government coalition parties apparently basically tolerate this kind of activity because it creates a possibility to use forms of entrapment that would otherwise be illegal here, and it is easier to get people in jail in the US, particularly through plea bargaining, which is also illegal here. Just smoking pot is safe, though.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by zero_offset (200586) on Monday May 07, 2007 @07:04AM (#19018775) Homepage
          I honestly can't think of any reason why someone should be extradited in this way.

          At first glance, it's difficult to imagine why country A would send a person to country B for prosecution, when the person did something that is also illegal in country A. The answer relates to everything behind that single word: prosecution.

          In this case, the United States has all the evidence and has conducted the investigation and is the entity making the accusation.

          This is part of the reason extradition agreements are so complex. The Australian government has reviewed the United States' case against the accused and believes it has merit. That combined with the other standard rules of extradition treaties (such as a guarantee to a fair trial, protection from cruel and unusual treatment, etc) are the reasons governments will extradite their own citizens.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by asninn (1071320)

        You actually want it this way. Wouldn't be much fun if criminals could commit crimes with impunity just because they weren't physically in a country.

        I don't know about you, but actually, yes, I'd want it that way.

        Think about it for a moment. Did he break any Australian laws? If the answer is "yes", then I don't see what the problem is with putting him on trial in Australia; certainly, if an Australian citizen breaks Australian law while on Australian soil, putting him on trial before an Australian cou

    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kripkenstein (913150) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:01AM (#19018063) Homepage
      I don't know much about Australian internal politics, but in the overall picture I think you are right: the Australian government is at fault here. Why give him up?

      Now, the guy violated copyright law - Australian copyright law, as mentioned in TFA,

      [Griffiths] indicated that he would be willing to plead guilty to a breach of Australian copyright law
      However, since the unlawful act was carried out in Australia, I have no idea why he can't be sentenced there. The US argument is presumably that the copyright owners are in the US, but so what? If I injure a German person while he visits France, should I be extradited to Germany from France? This whole issue just seems bizarre.
      • Re:Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

        by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:34AM (#19018289)

        Now, the guy violated copyright law - Australian copyright law, as mentioned in TFA,


        Hrngh. No.

        The guy has been accused of violating copyright law by certain people in the US. He has not been convicted. The question of his guilt has not even been examined by a court. He has been extradited not for violating copyright law, but for being accused of violating copyright law.

        If somebody in the US accused you of violating copyright law, you can be extradited too. It does not matter whether you did it. The US extradition treaties do not operate on the principle of "innocent until proven guilty", they operate on the principle of "everybody is guilty" - proof is not required, requested, or considered. A bureaucrat signs a form and you get shipped into a US jail. (At their option, this can be a US jail that isn't located on US soil, like Gitmo, so they aren't obliged to ever examine whether you are guilty of anything)
        • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dausha (546002) on Monday May 07, 2007 @07:55AM (#19019119) Homepage
          "The guy has been accused of violating copyright law by certain people in the US. He has not been convicted. The question of his guilt has not even been examined by a court. He has been extradited not for violating copyright law, but for being accused of violating copyright law."

          FTFA: "...Griffiths, 44, is in a Virginia cell, facing up to 10 years in an American prison after a guilty plea late last month...."

          This means the "accused" admitted he was wrong. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, his "question of guilt" has been examined by a court. Actually, there is not even a question of guilt, but an admission of guilt. He convicted himself in court. No need for the whole process. How many more times do I have to say he's guilty as examined by a court. A judge even has the chance to look at the facts of the case with a guilty plea and say "there's no case here, dismissed." But, that is not happening here because what occurred is legal in the US, Australia, and international law.

          Better check your facts next time. Oh, wait; this is Slashdot.
  • Vice versa (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:46AM (#19017997)
    Can someone point out a few cases where the news was somewhere along the lines of "American Extradited For Breaking [fill in foreign country] Law At Home" or does this business only work one way?
    • Re:Vice versa (Score:5, Informative)

      by lime_red (806401) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:36AM (#19018295) Homepage
      A quick search turned up a story on Duane "Dog" Chapman, a supposed bounty hunter who was wanted in Mexico. I hadn't heard of this until I looked it up so I can't guarantee any facts. He was arrested by US marshals and held pending being extradited to Mexico (some [tvsquad.com] TV show's [nbc10.com] coverage). It looks like they'll extradite him unless his supporters can convince the Mexican government to drop the charges (resolution here [hawaii.gov]).

      I also have another one of a foreigner being sent to the US [bbc.co.uk] -- so it's not just Australia -- not that that's a good thing.

      Some conjecture that I can't back up follows: I've read that the US rarely agrees to send their citizens overseas, rather just denying the extradition requests when they are in the courts.
      • Re:Vice versa (Score:4, Informative)

        by xtracto (837672) on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:33AM (#19018585) Journal
        But the difference the Duane Chapman case is that he broke a law while he was *in* Mexico, bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, he commited a crime *in* Mexico and thus Mexican justice system wants to judge him, hence the extradition.

        Whereas this case is about an Australian guy who commited a crime *in* Australia and the gringos want to fsck him just because ... because. The guy should have been tried and convicted in Australia, where he commited the crimes. I agree with the analogy made by other poster about smoking pot in Amsterdam, it is illegal to smoke pot under USA laws, they should arrest all the US Americans that go to Amsterdam just to get high when they return, because they did something seen as illegal under USA laws, no mattering the place where they broke the law.
      • Re:Vice versa (Score:5, Informative)

        by ZzzzSleep (606571) on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:45AM (#19018637) Homepage Journal
        Yes, but "Dog" actually committed the crime in Mexico. This guy hasn't been to the US and was willing to plead guilty in an Australian court. This is a fucked up situation here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gibsnag (885901)
      The extradition agreement with Britain is still (iirc) one sided because Congress hasn't ratified the agreement. Unless of course they have done recently and I've not heard about it (entirely possible).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hyfe (641811)
      America doesn't even extradite americans who commit crimes on actual foreign soil, there's no chance in hell they'd extradite on who hadn't even set foot in that country.


      As far as I know, the US has one way extradition-treates with most of Europe atleast (I know they have one with us, Norway, atleast). This is 'yet another reason' for why alot of/most people view the US as just another country, rather than the bastion of freedom.

  • Needs to be said (Score:5, Informative)

    by eclectro (227083) on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:50AM (#19018015)
    Others, however, argue that extradition is necessary to prevent internet crimes that transcend borders.

    But yet nothing is done to catch the 419 scammers and all the spammers selling (often fake) pharmaceuticals.

    • by Cordath (581672)
      If Raymond had broken U.S. law while in the U.S. then I would have no problem with this extradition. When you travel to another country you must abide by its laws. This was not the case however. This extradition sets the precedent of a citizen of a sovereign nation committing a crime on the soil of his own nation and being extradited and tried according to the laws of a foreign nation.

      What is wrong with this? What's wrong is wrong, right? Well, the problem is that, in a democracy, citizens need to have
  • Glad to be German (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nahooda (906991) on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:58AM (#19018045) Homepage
    I'm a bit stunned that Australian law obviously allows extraditing their citizens to other countries. Here in Germany such action is _strictly_ prohibited by the German Constitution.
    • Re:Glad to be German (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xonea (637183) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:11AM (#19018141)
      That is no longer true; the german constitution has been changed recently and now allows extraditions of germans to other countries of the european union or to an international court. You can't be extradited to the USA though :)

      (This is specified in Art. 16 (2) GG: http://www.datenschutz-berlin.de/recht/de/gg/gg1_d e.htm#art16 [datenschutz-berlin.de] )
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:13AM (#19018159)
      Not exactly, you signed up to the EU Extradited extradition which permits extradition for crimes including computer crimes (e.g. breaking DRM, no kidding). However that only applies to within the EU. But if the US can get a puppet government (e.g. Blairville) to issue a warrant for anyone in Europe, they can then extradite using the UK to US expedited extradition treaty.

      There's no limits on re-extradition.

      Worse, there is no judicial check in the UK, that the reasons given for the extradition, really complies with the requirements for extraditing. This is why a McKinnon (who broke US PCs into had a look around and left) is being accused of doing $5000 damage to each PC, in order for it to be a Federal crime and hence extraditable. The extradition mechanism doesn't let a UK judge check it.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/25/extraditio n_hacker/ [theregister.co.uk]

      In theory they could make any allegation against any UK citizen and get them extradited (kidnapped in effect) and the court could do nothing.

      [rant]F***ing Blair. We elected a leader, and he became a Bush follower and sold us out. I'll piss on his grave when he dies for the damage he's done to the UK sovereignty. [/rant]

    • by devitto (230479) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:56AM (#19018383) Homepage Journal
      Yeah,
      Well as a UK Citizen, we signed an agreement that allowed USUK extradition.

      However, the US hasn't, and won't sign their half !!!

      In contract-law speak, this is called being 'screwed over'.

      Blair (et al.) doesn't have the balls to revoke our ratification, despite the fact that several high-profile extradition cases have gone to the high court, and several high profile US->UK cases are just piling up, e.g. US servicemen causing in a large proportion of UK military deaths and casualties in Iraq/Afghanistan.

      To quote one US airman, who had just strafed and killed solders in a UK convoy - "Man, we're going to jail.". But luckily, US laws only apply when/where they say it does.
  • Wanna bet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by durin (72931) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:06AM (#19018095)
    ... the war on terror made this extradition a lot easier?

  • by alexibu (1071218) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:08AM (#19018107)
    The Aus government is working it's way to being a U.S. state.
    We are making our military hardware compatible with theirs, we are fighting in stupid profit based wars that go against the international community with them.
    They don't hand over their war criminals for international trial, and now they expect everyone around the world to respect their laws.
    Americas international standing is reducing every day. And judging by the media driven fear of the outside they are cultivating and the laughable democratic system and a retard for a president, they are well on the way to being the worst totalitarian state out there.
    We have the names of U.S states and capitals rammed down our necks by countless TV shows and movies and they don't even know we have states.

    I hope Iran/China/N. Korea gets some US citizens extradited too as part of this new high in international cooperation.
  • by NickHydroxide (870424) on Monday May 07, 2007 @05:20AM (#19018217)
    This is horrendous. I don't condone what he has done, but I contend that this should fall squarely and solely within the sovereign boundaries of Australia. We have a perfectly acceptable method of pursuing him for the same offence - either s 132AC(1) or s 132AC(2) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), which provide respectively:

    (1) A person commits an offence if:

                                              (a) the person engages in conduct; and

                                              (b) the conduct results in one or more infringements of the copyright in a work or other subjectmatter; and

                                              (c) the infringement or infringements have a substantial prejudicial impact on the owner of the copyright; and

                                              (d) the infringement or infringements occur on a commercial scale.

    (2) An offence against subsection (1) is punishable on conviction by a fine of not more than 550 penalty units or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both.

                              (3) A person commits an offence if:

                                              (a) the person engages in conduct; and

                                              (b) the conduct results in one or more infringements of the copyright in a work or other subjectmatter; and

                                              (c) the infringement or infringements have a substantial prejudicial impact on the owner of the copyright and the person is negligent as to that fact; and

                                              (d) the infringement or infringements occur on a commercial scale and the person is negligent as to that fact.

    Penalty: 120 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.
    There is absolutely no reason to extradite him except for political convenience or expediency, which should NEVER be a basis for depriving someone so severely of their status as a citizen. As Justice Young noted, we should beware allowing (and effecting) foreign prosecutions where the conduct is almost entirely referential to Australia.

    If equivalent offences were not in existence in Australia, then perhaps I might be more willing to accept it (although even then I would have drastic reservations). As it stands, I cannot accept this.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:08AM (#19018437) Homepage Journal
    ...that Australia no longer has genuine national sovereignty distinct from America. We haven't been our own people culturally or economically since the 80s, and the free trade agreement coupled with Howard's ongoing earnestness to subjugate himself to the American government as much as possible are just more nails in the coffin.

    The fools who were so adamant for Australia's split with the English monarchy now failed to realise one crucial detail; Australia's genuine independence is never going to happen. If we split with England entirely, America will rush in to fill the void before anyone can blink.

    Welcome to the 51st state. :(
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terrNO@SPAMterralogic.net> on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:19AM (#19018503)
    Somebody should have told this guy about OSS.
  • Terrorism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:21AM (#19018519)
    Before you hit the flamebait button, please listen: The issue here is more widespread than you think. In this case they were stealing software, breaking the anti-piracy measures and redistributing it. What about hacking a computer in another country, stealing credit cards and selling the cards or charging them? What about training radicals to hop onto planes and commit crimes in other countries? What about private groups of citizens launching rockets across the border into neighboring countries? In what jurisdiction does the crime occur? What if the other government refuses to prosecute? Should it escalate to a national or international conflict?

    The fundamental questions is, what do you do when someone from another country harms your citizens or destroys their property? Criminals used run for the state or country border to avoid prosecution. No they just play in the fuzzy areas of national sovereignty. Many of the conflicts in the world follow this pattern. In this case Australia decided to hand the criminal over the the US for prosecution. Maybe they are trying to send a message to criminals hiding behind these gray areas of sovereignty.
    • Re:Terrorism (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jackjeff (955699) on Monday May 07, 2007 @07:03AM (#19018769)
      I think Iran would gladly love to get the criminal G. W. Bush... and put him into jail or maybe execute him.

      Now think about it. How many stupid laws from stupid countries have you broken in your peaceful life in the US. Want an example: ever had sex without being married? That's a serious crime in Iran, Saudi, UAE and many other countries... You can get serious fines and jail time for it.

      Either the law is the same in the two countries, which is the case here, and thus it is unfair to extradate the person because he would be more able to defend itself in is home country, he would be able to have support from his family... visits during his jail time. etc... So there should be no extradition.
      Either the law is different but the crime for the "foreign" country was committed in the home country. In that case what he did is not a crime so there's no extradition.
      Extradition should be only reserved for cases where the crime occured in a foreign country.

      In this case, the extradition is unfair. The crime happened only in Australia. There was no hacking into US computers or anything alike.
  • Nice Precedent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gonoff (88518) on Monday May 07, 2007 @06:30AM (#19018571)

    Someone needs to ask for the extradition of your president and our prime minister for crimes against humanity - starting illegal wars, killing 10,000s of civilian non-combatants, detention without trial and lots more bad things.

    Obviously they are not illegal in the USA or the UK because they say so, but there are lots of places where this sort of behaviour is against the rules. If such extraditions are not a good thing, perhaps someone should say why mass murder is less important than intellectual "property".

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