Home Secretary approves Richard O’Dwyer extradition as USA closes in

O'Dwyer can now be extradited to the USA

Home Secretary Theresa May has approved the extradition as Sheffield Hallam University student Richard O’Dwyer to the US on the grounds of copyright infringement.

The 23-year-old computer science student could face up to 10 years in a US prison for operating his website ‘TVShack’ which provided links to pirated films and television shows.

The case was brought forward by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which claims that the TVShack.net website received more than $230,000 (£147,000) in advertising. US authorities obtained a warrant to seize the domain name in June 2010 and the allegations have now been brought forward to justify a trial in the US.

Following the implementation of the Extradition Act in 2004, the O’Dwyer case is just the latest in a series of contentious extradition cases involving the United States requesting the transportation of British suspects across the Atlantic without sufficient evidence.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: Mrs May had ‘carefully considered all relevant matters’ before signing the order.

“Mr O’Dwyer’s extradition had been approved because there were only four specific reasons why the Home Secretary could legally refuse, none of which were applicable.

“Mrs May had no choice but to approve the extradition.”

In response, O’Dwyer claims that his website ‘TVShack’ did not store copyright material itself but merely directed users to other sites, in some ways similar to Google.

Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, Mr O’Dwyer said: “I’ve done nothing wrong under UK law, and, it’s pretty ridiculous isn’t it?”.

He went on to say: “A 65-year-old man was extradited a few weeks ago, so if they can extradite someone that old they can extradite anyone really, couldn’t they?”

Students at the University of Sheffield have been active in their efforts to prevent Mr O’Dwyer from being sent to the US.

Joshua Kettlewell, a student in Sheffield, has recently set up an online petition to the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

However the ‘Take action to stop the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer’ petition has so far only received 51 signatures although figure is expected to rise as the petition makes its way around the Sheffield universities.

Mr O’Dwyer’s mother Julia, from Chesterfield, said “Yet another British citizen is being sold down the river by the British Government.

“Richard’s life – his studies, work opportunities, financial security – is being disrupted, for who knows how long, because the UK Government has not introduced the much-needed changes to the extradition law.

However, the Home Office has clarified that Mr O’Dwyer can appeal against the home secretary’s decision via the High Court and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mrs O’Dwyer said: “We are now carefully considering all Richard’s legal options.”

The US-UK extradition treaty, once branded “lopsided” in favour of American citizens by Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg, was the subject of a recent review by retired judge Sir Scott Baker.

Baker found the treaty to be “balanced and fair,” and said it was not biased against Britons, according to the Yorkshire Post. Despite this, it is possible for the USA to extradite UK citizens who live and work in the UK if they commit a US crime in the UK, without it being reciprocal.

O’Dwyer has also received support by the digital media tycoon Alki David, and numerous other prominent figures.


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