Thursday, May 10, 2007


Australia hands over man to US courts

BEFORE he was extradited to the United States, Hew Griffiths, from Berkeley Vale in NSW, had never even set foot in America. But he had pirated software produced by American companies.

Now, having been given up to the US by former justice minister Chris Ellison, Griffiths, 44, is in a Virginia cell, facing up to 10 years in an American prison after a guilty plea late last month.

Griffiths' case — involving one of the first extraditions for intellectual property crime — has been a triumph for US authorities, demonstrating their ability to enforce US laws protecting US companies against Australians in Australia, with the co-operation of the Australian Government.

Rolexes are fake; customs fine is real
Mike Korpi wanted to bring back trinkets from China for his three kids and five grandkids, so he picked up some fake Rolex watches in a bargain shop -- paying a couple of bucks apiece.

As he left Shen Zhen for Oregon, he wore one and packed the other seven in his duffel bag. When the flight landed, a customs agent spotted the fake watch on Korpi's wrist and told him he'd have to be searched.


Over the next several months, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tried reaching Korpi. They sent letters to his ex-wife. They tried calling him. Korpi assumed the government was trying to give the watches back.

But on Friday, he found out he was being fined for bringing counterfeit goods into the United States.

How much? Korpi asked the agent, figuring it couldn't be much since he paid $14.40 for all eight watches.

$55,300, the official said.

US judge frees Cuban wanted over bombing
A US judge has dismissed all charges against an anti-Castro Cuban exile wanted for the 1976 bombing of an airliner in which 73 people died. The move provoked anger yesterday in Cuba and Venezuela amid accusations of double standards in terrorism cases.

Luis Posada, 79, a former CIA operative, was due to stand trial tomorrow in El Paso, Texas, on immigration fraud charges, over claims that he had entered the US illegally. District court judge Kathleen Cardone dismissed those charges on the grounds that the case had been based on deception, in that Mr Posada thought he was taking part in an immigration interview when it was, in fact, a criminal interview.

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