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Website creator faces extradition to US

A British student can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement over a website he ran offering links to pirated films online, a court ruled yesterday.

Richard O'Dwyer, whose site TV Shack made more than £150,000 (€181,000) in advertising revenues, according to US prosecutors, is thought to be the first person extradited to America on such charges. If convicted in New York, he faces jail.

Speaking after the hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, the 23-year-old said he felt like a "guinea pig" for the US justice system. His lawyer argued that his site hosted no illegal content, but merely directed users to where it was held online, and said that his client would fight the ruling.

Asked outside court if he thought websites that link to other sites should be open to prosecution, Mr O'Dwyer said: "You should ask Google the same question, on a much grander scale."

He added: "I am obviously disappointed with the judge's decision today. I think I have faith in the High Court for making the right decision."

Mr O'Dwyer said the website had helped him with studies and that when he first set it up he "didn't even think it would get that popular to be honest".

His mother, Julia O'Dwyer, was in tears as she told reporters: "He's not going there for a trial, whatever happens. He isn't going, they can get stuffed."

Mr O'Dwyer's site was shut down by US authorities as part of a crackdown by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But he soon re-opened it at a different address and is alleged to have posted the message: "F**k the police" on its front page.

The Sheffield Hallam University student was arrested in September 2010 and bailed. Last March, an extradition application was made.

His lawyer claimed it should be denied because similar allegations against others in the UK had been dismissed in the past. He also argued that extradition would have been disproportionate, therefore breaching Mr O'Dwyer's human rights, and that US authorities had delayed asking for his extradition to gain a "tactical advantage".

District Judge Purdy said: "There are said to be direct consequences of criminal activity by Richard O'Dwyer in the US, albeit by him never leaving the north of England. Such a state of affairs does not demand a trial here if the competent UK authorities decline to act and does, in my judgment, permit one in the US." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent