UK Home Office confirms it has abandoned Richard O’Dwyer to US extradition

3 Jul 2012

A 24-year-old student and a citizen of the UK, Richard O'Dwyer

A 24-year-old British citizen’s extradition to the US to face copyright infringement charges is not to be contested by the UK Home Office, it was confirmed today. The plight of student Richard O’Dwyer has been described by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales as the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public.

O’Dwyer, a student at Sheffield Hallam University, created a website called, which linked to places on the internet where users could watch TV and movies online.

According to Wales, who has set up a petition that has attracted 221,00 signatures, O’Dwyer tried to play by the rules and on the few occasions where he received requests to remove content from copyright holders, he complied.

The site contained links to other sites, such as YouTube, but did not host the actual copyrighted content.

US prosecutors claim the site generated US$230,000 in advertising revenue.

According to CNET, UK Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed today that despite her powers to veto a court’s decision and halt the extradition, she has decided not to intervene.

In a statement, May confirmed that on 9 March she signed an order for O’Dwyer’s extradition to the US.

O’Dwyer has launched an appeal against the order.

Online censorship

In the petition Wales pointed out: “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.

“The internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship in response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online.”

Wales described O’Dwyer as the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public.

“Earlier this year, in the fight against the anti-copyright bills SOPA and PIPA, the public won its first big victory. This could be our second.

“This is why I am petitioning the UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer. I hope you will join me.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years