Jimmy Wales Calls For Home Secretary Meeting On O’Dwyer Extradition

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Jimmy Wales cranks up his campaign to keep Richard O’Dwyer in the UK

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has called for a face-to-face showdown with home secretary Theresa May as he looks to stop the extradition of 24-year-old creator Richard O’Dwyer.

Wales set up a petition last month, which has now gained over 215,000 signatures, asking the home secretary to block the extradition of O’Dwyer to the US, where copyright owners want to take him to court for alleged infringement by the site. A YouGov poll released today showed 70 percent of British adults do not think that O’Dwyer should be extradited to the US, to face charges of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal infringement of copyright.

Theresa May has been markedly taciturn on the issue. May signed off O’Dwyer’s extradition back in March. Soon after, TechWeekEurope revealed the home secretary’s website was smashed offline by an Anonymous cell in protest at the controversial extradition treaty with the US.

Ignoring the message

Opponents of O’Dwyer’s extradition say that the charges he faces relate to alleged crimes committed on UK soil and so the case should be held in Britain.

They also claim did not commit any copyright offences as it linked to sites where video could be downloaded, but did not offer the downloading function directly. It essentially acted as a search service for video content, sometimes leading to unauthorised sites, but other times to legitimate ones, essentially similar to the service offered by Google.

“The Home Secretary continues to ignore hundreds of thousands of citizens, the UK tech community, business leaders, celebrities and MPs from all parties on this issue,” Wales said. “She should be very clear that we are not going to go away and new supporters are joining the campaign all the time. I urge her to meet with myself and Richard’s mother, Julia, as soon as possible.”

Julia O’Dwyer, in an interview with TechWeekEurope last week, said May didn’t actually “have very much power” as she “is constrained by the law this government has allowed to remain unchanged.” But today she showed her dismay at the lack of action from the home secretary.

“I can’t believe that Theresa May has not had the good grace to respond to this campaign so far. I had hoped that as an elected representative in a country that holds values of freedom so dear, she would have made some sort of response,” O’Dwyer said. “I could lose my son for 10 years to a US prison for something that isn’t even a crime in the UK. I have been a taxpayer for my whole working life and now, when I need our government the most, they have totally failed me.”

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