New campaign launched in fight to prevent extradition of Sheffield lad

File photo dated 13/01/2012 of student Richard O'Dwyer, who is facing extradition to the United States after he allegedly infringed copyright laws has said he fears being held in a maximum security jail without bail. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday March 26, 2012. O'Dwyer, 23, said he was scared he would end up being held on remand with no bail if extradited, and he added that he did not deserve to be imprisoned. See PA story POLITICS Extradition. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
File photo dated 13/01/2012 of student Richard O'Dwyer, who is facing extradition to the United States after he allegedly infringed copyright laws has said he fears being held in a maximum security jail without bail. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday March 26, 2012. O'Dwyer, 23, said he was scared he would end up being held on remand with no bail if extradited, and he added that he did not deserve to be imprisoned. See PA story POLITICS Extradition. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The founder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has started a petition seeking to block the extradition of a Sheffield student to America.

Jimmy Wales has shown his support for Sheffield Hallam university student Richard O’Dwyer, aged 24, who is contesting extradition to the US to face copyright infringement charges.

US authorities accuse the student, from Bolsover, of setting up a website which they claim hosted links to pirated films and TV programmes.

On the petition website, Mr Wales wrote: “Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose. But that does not mean that copyright can or should be unlimited.

“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. Richard O’Dwyer is the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public.”

Home Secretary Theresa May approved Mr O’Dwyer’s extradition to the US but he is appealing the decision.

His mum Julia said: “It is obviously quite significant to have Jimmy Wales’ support. He didn’t do that lightly. He spent a lot of time talking to Richard.

“It has concentrated efforts to get the message across to the Government, because it is in their hands.”

Richard’s mum Julia said the new petition was a ‘huge boost’.