14 Mar 2012

UK backs extradition to US for file-sharing suspect

8:24 am on 14 March 2012

Britain's Home Secretary has backed a decision to allow the extradition to the United States of a British student who ran a website allowing users to access films and TV shows illegally.

Richard O'Dwyer is wanted by the American authorities for copyright infringement offences in connection with his TVShack website.

The site did not host any illegal content but provided links to other online sites where it could be accessed.

In a London court hearing in January, his lawyers argued that by linking to other websites, he had done nothing more than the likes of Google or Yahoo.

However, a judge rejected the argument and the Home Secretary Theresa May has upheld the decision to extradite the 23-year-old.

He can still appeal to London's High Court against the ruling.

Before his court hearing in January, Mr O'Dwyer told media that he started the project to improve his computer programming skills and help him get a work placement.

The student said he sold advertising space to pay for the server fees.

US authorities said he had earned $US230,000 from the venture.

Campaigners argue the case is the latest in a series that demonstrate Britain's extradition rules with the United States are lopsided, allowing suspects to be extradited without criminal charges from British authorities.

The most high-profile is that of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who was arrested in 2002 after allegedly hacking into US security systems including the Pentagon and NASA and who is still fighting to avoid extradition.