Home secretary Theresa May has signed extradition orders for computer science student Richard O'Dwyer, who faces trial in US on copyright infringement charges.
O'Dwyer stands accused of running the website TVShack.net, which allegedly provided links to other websites that illegally streamed copyrighted content. The 23-year-old, who has been studying at Sheffield Hallam University, faces two counts of infringement that each carry a maximum of five years imprisonment.
"Today, yet another British citizen is being sold down the river by the British government," Julia O'Dwyer, the defendant's mother, was quoted as saying.
The TVShack.net takedown and O'Dwyer's arrest took place in May last year. The case is reminiscent of that of Gary McKinnon, a self-confessed hacker who has been fighting extradition to the US for the best part of a decade. Indeed, both men have been represented by the same barrister, Ben Cooper.
However, McKinnon hacked into military systems that were housed on US soil. The service allegedly run by O'Dwyer was not hosted in the US, a fact that has given some ammunition to his defence, but clearly not enough to halt the extradition process.
The site also did not host copyrighted material itself, creating similarities between the case and that of RnBXclusive, a blog that also allegedly linked to unlawful downloads.
Today, yet another British citizen is being sold down the river by the British government.– Julia O'Dwyer
RnBXclusive was taken down by the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in February this year, in an operation that was partially intended to scare downloaders into thinking they faced jail.
The UK's extradition arrangements with the US were created in the wake of 9/11 and are lopsided, in that a UK citizen can be extradited to the US without probable cause, but the reverse does not hold.
"Richard's life — his studies, work opportunities, financial security — is being disrupted, for who knows how long, because the UK government has not introduced the much-needed changes to extradition law," Julia O'Dwyer said.