Student faces extradition to US for hosting links

Student faces extradition to US for hosting links

Summary: A Sheffield student is facing extradition to the US for running a website that directed visitors to online movies and TV shows, despite the fact that the site only hosted links and not the material itself

TOPICS: Government UK

A 23-year-old student at Sheffield Hallam University is facing extradition to America for allegedly running a website that provided links to television shows and films hosted on other websites.

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Computer science undergraduate Richard O'Dwyer was arrested three weeks ago for running the website, which has since been seized by US Immigration and Customs. was seized as it hosted links to other websites where people could stream TV and films online. O'Dwyer is accused of being the administrator of the site.

Student O'Dwyer was arrested on 23 May and spent the night in custody, before his aunt posted bail of £3,000. He will be represented by Ben Cooper, a lawyer involved in the long-running Gary McKinnon extradition case, according to a report in local newspaper, The Star.

Terms of his bail involved not entering ports or airports and not applying to register new domain names. On Tuesday, O'Dwyer appeared before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court for a brief preliminary hearing. His lawyer said the extradition demands made by the US breached O'Dwyer's human rights and there was no basis for extradition.

"The server was not based in the US at all. Mr O'Dwyer did not have copyrighted material on his website; he simply provided a link. The essential contention is that the correct forum for this trial is in fact here in Britain, where he was at all times," Cooper is quoted in the report as saying.

Following the hearing the defendant's mother, Julia O'Dwyer, described the extradition request as unnecessary.

"To try to haul him off to America for trial while he's midway through his university studies is so utterly disproportionate it defies belief," his mother said. "We have a perfectly good justice system in the UK — why aren't we using it in cases such as this?"

The essential contention is that the correct forum for this trial is here in Britain, where he was at all times.

– Ben Cooper, Lawyer

O'Dwyer is scheduled to return to court on 12 September for a further hearing. He has not yet entered a plea in the case.

The site was taken offline by US authorities as part of 'Operation In Our Sites' which began in June 2010 with the seizure of a number of similar sites, such as,, and The operation took down more than 80 further sites in November 2010.

Despite being taken offline, the site quickly re-appeared at, which has since also been seized by US authorities. The site is still accessible, but it is unknown whether O'Dwyer has any link to that domain.

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Topic: Government UK

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • What's the betting he'll suddenly be diagnosed with some previously undiagnosed disease / mental condition just before the extradition hearing.
  • I find it curious how the US authorities can go after a foreigner on foreign soil for something done on a foreign server (at least that's what we're told so far). Shouldn't they also be going after each and every search engine which can return links to those television and film websites?
    Fat Pop Do Wop
  • @Fat Pop Do Wop. I find it disgraceful that the US considers their laws and systems should supersede ours. If they feel they must single out this student for prosecution, then do it here through the proper channels in accordance with *our* laws.
    The Former Moley
  • Tell you what!,

    Lets all sue google for having links to such sites aswell?