Jimmy Wales steps in to try and halt extradition

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is calling for the US to abandon its attempt to extradite British student Richard O'Dwyer over alleged copyright offenses.

He's launched an online petition calling on the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, to halt the extradition on the grounds that the alleged crime was committed on UK soil.

The 24-year-old student is facing up to ten years in jail for creating a website called TVShack.net. The site didn't host any infringing content at all, but simply linked to sites allowing movies and TV to be watched online.

O'Dwyer has committed no crime under British law; indeed, if linking to infringing sites is illegal, then Google, for example, is equally culpable.

"O'Dwyer is not a US citizen, he's lived in the UK all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the US. America is trying to prosecute a UK citizen for an alleged crime which took place on UK soil," says Wales.

"When operating his site, Richard O'Dwyer always did his best to play by the rules: on the few occasions he received requests to remove content from copyright holders, he complied. His site hosted links, not copyrighted content, and these were submitted by users."

The petition has already gathered over 13,000 signatures, and has been welcomed by O'Dyer's mother Julia.

"This is not only a matter of British national importance but of global importance too. We so appreciate Jimmy Wales launching this petition in support of Richard, to have such support and endorsement from such a knowledgeable and respected figure is fantastic," she says.

The case highlights the one-sided nature of the US' extradition treaty with the But under the teraty, US authorities have to produce far less evidence on order to procure extradition than is the case the other way round.

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has urged the government to renegotiate the treaty, saying it is unbalanced, and Primie Minster David Cameron is believed to have raised ths issue with Barack Obama in March.