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Aussie court blocks DrinkorDie extradition

Windows 'software pirate' going nowhere

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Australian magistrates have blocked the extradition of the alleged head of a software piracy syndicate to the US.

Hew Raymond Griffiths, 41, of Berkeley Vale in New South Wales, Australia, was indicted on one count of criminal copyright infringement and one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement by a Virginia grand jury last year. US investigators charge that Griffiths rose trough the ranks to become leader of the infamous DrinkorDie piracy group, which released a pirated copy of Windows 95, days before its official release and has been getting up to similar antics ever since.

But the circumstances of the case failed to persuade Downing Centre Local Court Magistrate Daniel Reiss that Griffiths ought to be extradited.

Griffiths' alleged crimes took place in Australia. Griffiths had never travelled to the US and, what's more, he'd "never been a fugitive fleeing or hiding from the extradition country".

Taking these factors into account, Magistrate Reiss ruled that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, acting on instructions from the US, had failed to make a case for extradition.

In his judgement, Magistrate Reiss urged a review of Australian extradition laws to take account of advances in technology.

Griffiths' solicitor, Antony Townsden, criticised the extradition proceedings and said his client should face trial in Australia, if anywhere. He attacked US authorities for singling out his client, among other suspects arrested in the UK and elsewhere, for extradition.

"It would have been an impossible task for him to represent himself in the US, where he would have had no ties and no support in what would have been an extremely complex matter," Townsden told Australian IT.

"One would have thought it should have been tried in his own country." ®

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