The Heretical Two, who consider themselves political satirists
and nonviolent gadflies, are the first persons to be prosecuted in
Britain for Internet speech made on a Web server in another
country, says Ballard. They were charged under Britain's Public
Order Act of 1986 and are subjected to penalties enhanced by the
British Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2000.
Since that time, Britain has arrested another man, Frederick
Toben, an Australian, for speech denying "the Holocaust," based on
a German arrest warrant issued for Toben. Toben was taken into
custody October during a layover at Heathrow Airport.
"These two alarming cases are related in that both of them are
attempts by the British Crown to criminalize speech regardless of
where it takes place and whether it is legal in the place where it
was made," noted Bruce Leichty, a San Diego County attorney who was
retained in September to represent the Heretical Two.
The October 14 Los Angeles Immigration Court decision in the
Sheppard and Whittle cases leaves the two in need of the remedy of
habeas corpus (literally: we have the body), a process which
federal legislators in the U.S. have made more difficult and costly
for immigrants in recent years, according to Leichty.
Leichty said the actions of the U.S. government to date have
added insult to injury. "Here are two British individuals who
published speech that was legally protected in the United States,
for which they were criminally prosecuted in Britain," said
Leichty, "and now the case has taken an even more Kafkaesque turn
since the one country that should be protecting them from
imprisonment in Britain has instead thrown them into U.S. jail for