UK student accused of piracy avoids extradition to US

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A British university student facing trial and imprisonment in America for breaking anti-piracy laws has won his fight against extradition.

In a deal which is believed to be a legal first, Richard O'Dwyer, 24, will instead travel to the US voluntarily and pay a small sum in compensation.

Supporters have hailed the decision, which follows a campaign led by his mother, Julia.

The paediatric nurse, who lives near Chesterfield, fought on behalf of her son, who had run the TVShack website from his halls of residence at Sheffield Hallam University.

The US authorities claimed TVShack hosted links to pirated films and TV programmes and earned more than £147,000 in advertising revenue.

Prosecutors demanded Mr O'Dwyer should be sent to the States under the controversial 2003 Extradition Act and Home Secretary Theresa May signed a warrant for his extradition at the start of the year.

But after negotiations by Mr O'Dwyer's legal team, he has signed a 'deferred prosecution' agreement.

At the UK High Court yesterday a judge was told that Mr O'Dwyer was expected to complete the agreement in the next 14 days, pay a small sum in compensation and give undertakings not to infringe copyright laws again.

His extradition application is then expected to return to the High Court so it can formally be disposed of. Judge Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, said: "It would be very nice for everyone if this was resolved happily before Christmas."

Sir John also said it was a "very satisfactory outcome".

Campaigners drew comparisons between the case of Mr O'Dwyer and Gary McKinnon, the computer hacker saved from extradition last month after a long Daily Mail campaign.

Like Mr O'Dwyer, Gary's supposed crimes - hacking into military computers, while looking for evidence of "little green men" - took place from the UK.

Mrs May has promised to introduce a test to establish whether a person involved in similar cases should be tried in the UK or US.

- DAILY MAIL

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