Wait goes on in extradition fight

Richard O'Dwyer
Richard O'Dwyer

A SHEFFIELD student fighting extradition to the US for alleged copyright offences will ‘try to carry on as normally as possible’ while waiting for the outcome of the case in the New Year, his mother has said.

The hearing, against Richard O’Dwyer, aged 23, a Sheffield Hallam University undergraduate, has been adjourned until January after a district judge heard submissions on behalf of US officials and Richard’s family.

Richard, originally from Chesterfield, is accused of conspiring to infringe copyright for his role in running the TVShack.net website, which provided hyperlinks to pirated films and TV programmes.

He is said to have made more than £146,000 in advertising revenue from the site.

If extradited, Richard would be held in pre-trial custody with hardened criminals and faces 10 years in jail in America if convicted. His mum, Julia O’Dwyer, said: “Richard is alright, he is just trying to carry on as normal.

“He doesn’t worry about what might happen and is concentrating on his studies. But it’s a nightmare - what the US wants to do is totally disproportionate. It’s quite a terrifying prospect.

“We are trying to prove that what he did was not a crime in the UK. If that is that case, he won’t be able to be extradited. We are just trying to keep positive but what might happen never goes away from your mind.”

Richard’s barrister, Ben Cooper, told the hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that extraditing the ‘talented student’ would risk breaching his right to a private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said: “This contest is between a scenario where Mr O’Dwyer’s Article 8 rights would be preserved by the UK justice system against what is a grossly disproportionate extradition request by the US.

“He will suffer the prospect of complete disruption of all he has achieved academically, socially and with his family.”

Mr Cooper said his client’s website did not host any copyrighted material and was providing the same service as Google or the Radio Times.

If the court decides a trial should go ahead, Mr Cooper called for it to be in an English court so Richard can continue his studies. He begins his final year of a degree in Interactive Media with Animation next September.

John Jones, for the US government, said: There is no identifiable injustice in this case. It certainly cannot be said he cannot have a fair trial in the US.”