A SHEFFIELD student accused of infringing copyright laws is being ‘sold down the river’ by the Government, his mother said as the Home Secretary approved his extradition.
Sheffield Hallam University undergraduate Richard O’Dwyer, aged 23, allegedly earned thousands of pounds through advertising on the TVShack website before it was closed down by authorities in the U.S.
As Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in the U.S. for talks with President Barack Obama, his mother Julia warned the U.S. was coming for the young, the old and the ill ‘and our Government is paving the way’.
Mrs O’Dwyer, from Chesterfield, was told Home Secretary Theresa May had signed the order authorising her son’s extradition today, two months after a district judge said the allegations justified a trial in the U.S.
Mrs O’Dwyer said: “Today, 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.”
“By rights, it should make for an interesting conversation between the Obamas and Camerons aboard Air Force One - but I’m not holding my breath.
“If Richard appears to have committed a crime in this country - then try him in this country.
“Instead the Home Secretary wants to send him thousands of miles away and leave him languishing in a US jail, before he has a chance to demonstrate his innocence, under British law, of the allegations made against him.
“We are now carefully considering all Richard’s legal options.”
O’Dwyer faces up to 10 years’ jail if convicted of the allegations, which were brought following a crackdown by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Ben Cooper, his lawyer, has argued the site did not store copyright material itself and merely pointed users to other sites, in the same way that Google and Yahoo operate.
Mr Cooper also said his client would be the first British citizen to be extradited for such an offence and would effectively become a “guinea pig” for copyright law in the US.
The U.S. authorities allege the student received more than $230,000 (about £147,000) in advertising revenue between January 2008 and 2010, when the site was shut down.
O’Dwyer could now appeal to the High Court, and then to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, in a bid to block moves to extradite him to the U.S.