The lawyer of an Australian man under threat of extradition to the United States to face Internet piracy charges has warned that his client would find it tough to secure legal representation and access material for his defence should the US move succeed.
Antony Townsden, a Legal Aid Commission lawyer, made the claims after alleged Internet pirate Hew Raymond Griffiths was returned to jail in Sydney on Wednesday as a result of the latest legal manoeuvre by US authorities to have him face charges in the States.
The US won an appeal against an earlier court finding in March that there was no extraditable offence.
Townsden said: "The question there is that why is he not being processed in this country? There is a feeling that he is being head-hunted by the US authorities."
Townsden told ZDNet Australia that Griffiths was the only alleged member of the software piracy group DrinkorDie whose extradition was being sought. According to the office of the US attorney, the group DrinkorDie illegally copied and distributed more than $50m worth of pirated software, movies, games and music. Several members of the group — which specialised in "cracking" software by getting around embedded copyright protections and distributing it via the Internet — have already been convicted in the US, while others face charges in Britain.
"I think it's an unfortunate situation. A number of people from the US are dealt with in the US and those from the UK are dealt with in the UK. The only person we are aware of in the whole group where extradition has been sought is an Australian. I think its good enough to say they might find it easier to get [a] prosecution if it's in another country," Townsden said.
Townsden also gave Australian authorities a spray, accusing them of hiding behind the legal definition of dealing only with Australian "citizens".
Griffiths arrived in Australia from the UK when he was seven years old and has never left the country. Townsden said he does not know what Griffiths' citizenship is but says that Griffiths consider himself an Australian.
"He arrived in Australia when he was seven and couldn't be bothered to get a citizenship, but he considers himself an Australian. Even so, the reality is that we all have an obligation to deal with our people," he said.
If the extradition and prosecution in the US succeeds, Griffith faces up to 10 years imprisonment for copyright and conspiracy charges and a fine of up to $500,000. Townsden said under Australian copyright laws, Griffith will only be facing a maximum sentence of five years.
Griffith was indicted last year for one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and one count of copyright infringement.
Townsden said Griffith's team was seeking further advice for grounds to appeal within 15 days.